POCOMOKE CITY – Southern Worcester County will again celebrate its agricultural roots with the 2016 edition of the Great Pocomoke Fair.
The annual event, held at the fairgrounds on Broad Street in Pocomoke, will feature livestock judging, harness racing, a pageant, an antique tractor pull and fireworks among many other activities. Organizers say that in spite of the variety, agriculture is the focus of the fair.
“It shows what goes on in the agriculture community,” said John Smith, a member of the board of The Great Pocomoke Fair. “A lot of your kids today, they think beef and chocolate milk comes from Walmart. Well yes it does, but where did Walmart get it?”
The fair opened Thursday but continues through Saturday night. Highlights include drag racing at 7 p.m. Friday as well as live harness racing and an antique tractor pull on Saturday. New this year is a hobby horse race, which is set for 6 p.m. Friday. Smith says participants will pay $25 for a stick horse and the chance to advance it across a numbered track. The event has been set up to raise money for the fair, which has been a staple in the community for years. The fair’s board, however, continues to dwindle and most of its members are in their 60s, Smith said.
“We’re always looking for members,” he said, adding that the annual event would need the support of the community, particularly its younger members, if it was to continue in the future.
The fair dates back to 1901 in Pocomoke. Though it was very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, the fair fell victim to the Great Depression and the last one of that era was held in 1930. It was reorganized in 1991 and has been a popular community event ever since.
The fair is open Friday from 5-10 p.m. Visitors can browse indoor exhibits as well as the livestock exhibits throughout the night. Hog judging will take place at 5 p.m., followed by the hobby horse race at 6 p.m. Cow judging will begin at 6:30 p.m. while drag racing is set to take place in front of the grandstand at 7p.m.
On Saturday the fair offers an entire day’s worth of entertainment, as it opens at 8 a.m. and runs until 11 p.m.
Sheep and goats will be judged in the morning while harness racing is set to begin at 12:45 p.m.
Mike Wandishin, the fair’s director of racing, says 16 races are slated for the afternoon.
“We’re as excited as always about the fair,” he said. “We always have a good time.”
Wandishin said that because the fair offered exhibition racing, it gave young drivers who weren’t yet making a living with the sport a chance to compete. Several individuals who have gone on to become internationally known harness racing drivers got their start at Pocomoke.
Delmar teenager Declan Donoway, 16, will be one of the youngest drivers competing in Saturday’s races. He’s attended the fair the past two years.
“I like racing at the fair to get experience with the horses and to have a chance to go behind the starting gate to learn so that I can have a future with harness racing as a trainer and driver,” he said.
Following Saturday’s races, the fair will host Smith’s favorite event, the antique tractor pull. Starting at 5 p.m., classic tractors will test their strength, pulling between 3,500 and 9,500 pounds.
“I like antique tractors,” Smith said. “It’s just something neat for the older guys.”
The fair culminates Saturday night with a fireworks show at 10:15 p.m. For more information visit www.thegreatpocomokefair.org.