If You Go The 154th annual Great Frederick Fair Where: 797 East Patrick Street, Frederick MD 21705 When: Friday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Carnival rides open from 10 a.m. to close on Saturdays, noon to close on Sunday, 2 p.m. to close Monday though Thursday, and 10 a.m. to close on Friday. Admission for adults is $8 and children 10 and under are free.
The first visitors to The Great Frederick Fair were eager for a taste of tradition from the food stalls that have been serving it up for a long time.
In the early afternoon Friday, before the Midway rides opened and before the entertainment began, workers at the fairgrounds prepared their stalls while families sought to satisfy their cravings for fair foods and visit with the first few animals.
The Great Frederick Fair, in its 154th year, is a tradition for many of those families.
“It’s something you look forward to every year,” Frederick resident Rachael Onderdonk said.
She visits the fair every year, she said, and particularly looks forward to the turkey legs from Ribbins BBQ.
She used to stay at the fair into the evening, but with her 3-year-old son, it’s more convenient to arrive early and leave before the crowds are too large.
Jasmine Summers, 23, said she had been coming to the fair every year for as long as she could remember. Now the Frederick resident was eager to share the experience with her 1-year-old daughter. She planned to enjoy cheese fries and check out the animals.
Most of the animal stalls were still empty in the early afternoon, but there were cows and horses on display. The theme this year, echoing Bruce Springsteen and others, is “Barn in the USA.”
Vendors said that crowds, and their sales, will pick up when more animals arrive and the entertainment gets underway.
Scott Burall, president of the New Market Grange 362, served up burgers to the first round of fairgoers as part of the group’s largest fundraiser.
He was happy, he said, to be part of the agricultural groups’s 87-year history at the fair.
“The whole organization was based on farming,” he said. “It still means a lot to us as it should to everyone in the community because that’s where we get our food from.”
The New Market Grange raises roughly $17,500 each year at the fair, he said, which is used to fund a variety of activities from providing scholarships for youth in the group to supporting the local park and food bank.
Harry Dougherty, of Dougherty’s Country Kitchen, is a family-based operation serving up classic comfort food at the fair for the past 47 years.
He said he is hoping to plan something special for the 50th anniversary, but he is not sure what that will be yet.
He added that he had one of the first stands in his section of the fairgrounds near the cattle barn and that they once charged only 50 cents for a hamburger.
“When we started, I had a meat store, I had a slaughterhouse,” he said.
Dougherty is retired, but he plans to keep coming back to work at The Great Frederick Fair as long as he can, year after year.