THE FAIR SEASON returns this month and next with the usual lineups of animals, pig races, rodeos, demolition derbies, tractor pulls and country music stars. Here is the roundup of fairs in the region: MARYLAND
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY FAIR --
Sept. 10 to Sept. 16. This rapidly urbanizing county's fair features animals, craft exhibits and an assortment of police-firefighter competitions and other entertainment. Hours are 10 to 9 Sept. 10, 10 to 8 Sept. 11, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 12, 1 to 11 Sept. 13, 4 to 11 Sept. 14, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 15 and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 16. Midway hours are 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 12 through 14, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 15 and noon to 9 Sept. 16. Admission is $4 for all 16 and older, $1.50 for seniors, $1 children 6 through 15; free for 5 and younger. The fairgrounds are on Route 178 in Crownsville. Call 301/923-3400.
BALTIMORE CITY FAIR --
Aug. 31 to Labor Day (Sept. 3). This urban fair offers exhibits, rides and games inside and outside Festival Hall, at Pratt and Sharp streets, just west of the Inner Harbor. Hours are 11 to 11 Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 1, noon to 11 Sept. 2 and 10 to 8 Sept. 3. Admission is $3. Call 301/547-0015.
CHARLES COUNTY FAIR --
Sept. 13 to 16. Tobacco remains the featured attraction at this fair; others include the standard displays of farm animals and produce, plus a midway and entertainment. The fair is open from 5 to 10 Sept. 13, 9 to 9 Sept. 14 and 15, and 10 to 6 Sept. 16. Admission is $4 all 13 and older; four-day pass for $8. All students admitted free between 9 and 5 on Sept. 14. The coronation of Queen Nicotina is at 7 opening day, while the demolition derby is at 2 the last day. From the Beltway, take Route 5 south to U.S. 301, turn right and drive to the fairgrounds two miles south of LaPlata. Call 301/843-9314.
GREAT FREDERICK FAIR --
Sept. 17 to Sept. 22. This fair features a midway of more than 100 rides and some major country music stars.. Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for the exhibit and midway. Free harness racing daily at 1. Admission is $3 for all 10 and older; seniors admitted free up to 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, 19 and 20. Parking is $3 per car. Grandstand entertainment includes a tractor pull at 6:30 on opening day ($6 and $8); a demolition derby at 7 on Sept. 18 ($6 and $8); Ronnie Milsap at 6:30 and 9 on Sept. 19 ($6 and $14); the Statler Brothers at 6:30 and 9 on Sept. 20 ($6 and $14); Charlie Pride and Mickey Gilley at 6:30 and 9 on Sept. 21 ($6 and $14); and a championship rodeo at noon on closing day ($8), with George Jones and Glen Campbell at 6:30 and 9 ($6 and $14). Take I-270 north to Frederick Exit 31A and follow signs to the fairgrounds. Call 301/663-5895.
HOWARD COUNTY FAIR --
Through Saturday. This country-suburban fair is winding up at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairground Rd., West Friendship, Md. Hours for displays, entertainment and the midway are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Admission is $3 for all 12 and and older. Parking is free. Call 301/442-1022.
MARYLAND STATE FAIR --
Aug. 25 to Labor Day. The main attractions of the huge fair are the livestock exhibits and horse shows, sprawling midway, continuous entertainment and racing at the Timonium Race Track on the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds open at 8 daily, exhibit halls at 10, and the midway at 11 weekends and noon weekdays. The fair closes around 10 each evening. The annual hot-air balloon race lifts off at 7 p.m. opening day, weather permitting. A full schedule of races at Timonium is held every day at 1 during the fair's run. Admission is $3 for all 12 and older, and includes entry to the race track. Parking is $1. Take I-95 north to I-695 west, then I-83 north to the fairgrounds exit. Call 301/252-0200.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY AGRICULTURAL FAIR --
Friday to Aug. 25. This fair in Gaithersburg celebrates "The Year of the Beef" surrounded by the suburban sprawl that has pushed out many of the farms of a generation ago. The 39-ride midway and stage entertainment is from 3 to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 1 to midnight Sunday and 10 a.m. to midnight the rest of the run. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. to closing Sunday through Aug. 25. Special attractions include a tractor and truck pull at 7 p.m. Wednesday and a demolition derby at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission to those events is $2. Monday is Children's Day, with free admission for all school-age children. General admission is $4 for all 12 and older. Parking is $2. A shuttle bus will operate from the Lakeforest Mall on Route 355 in Gaitherburg, with a one-way fare of 50 cents. The fairgrounds entrance is on Route 355 in the center of Gaithersburg. Call 926-3100.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY FAIR --
Labor Day to Sept. 9. This large suburban fair features thousands of standard fair exhibits, a 35-ride midway, entertainment and more. The hours are 11 to 10 Labor Day, Sept. 8 and 9; 4 to 10 Sept. 4 to 7. The major acts include The Hubcaps at 4 and 7 Labor Day and Sept. 9; the Hollanders at 6 and 8 on Sept. 6; Wild Rose at 8 and 10 on Sept. 7, and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters at 8 and 10 on Sept. 8. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, children 12 and under free. Parking is free. The fair is at the Equestrian Center at Routes 301 and 4 in Upper Marlboro. Call 952-0270 after Aug. 24. VIRGINIA
ARLINGTON COUNTY FAIR --
Through Sunday. This free city fair celebrates the ethnic diversity of the county, with more than 250 exhibitors, scads of vendors selling foods from all corners of the globe, and enough animals and rides to entertainment the younger fairgoer. The hours are 10 to 9 Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 Sunday. The fair is at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 S. Second St., Arlington. Admission is free. The bad news is that parking is almost nonexistent. Free shuttle buses will operate every 30 minutes from the Courthouse Metro Stop, the Arlington Career Center at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr. and the Route 1-66 overpass garage at North Quincy and North 15th streets. Call 358-6400.
CLARKE COUNTY FAIR --
Monday to Aug. 25. This down-home fair offers a traditional mix of exhibits, crafts, livestock, rides and entertainment. The fair is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is $3, $10 for the entire week; children under 15 are admitted for $1 a day, $3 for the week; preschool children admitted free. Take Route 7 west to Berryville, then take the third Berryville exit (at the stop light) and head back to the town of Berryville. The fairgrounds are on the left. Call 703/955-2530.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY FAIR --
Through Saturday. This 41st annual fair, one of the better bargains in such events, is at the Prince William County Fairgrounds on Route 234 in Manassas. The fair admission of $8 for all 7 through 59 ($4 ages 3 through 6 and 60-plus) includes all exhibits, midway rides, entertainment and grandstand shows. Fair gates open at noon daily, the midway at 2; closing is around midnight. Grandstand shows include mud bogs at 7 Friday and 6 Saturday. Take I-66 west to Route 234/Manassas south and drive seven miles to the fairgrounds. Call 703/368-0173.
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY FAIR --
Through Saturday. The last two days of this fair near Harrisonburg, Va., offer fun on a budget. On Friday, admission is $4 adults, $1 for ages 6 to 12 and free for toddlers; Ricky Skaggs performs at 7:30 for an additional $10 for reserved seats, $8 general admission; and from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., $6 allows you on all midway rides. On Saturday, the adult and youth admission drops to $1, with an antique auto show, flea market, steer-roping event and an evening demolition derby as the main attractions. Take I-66 west to I-81 south. Take Exit 62 (Harrisonburg) off I-81 to Route 11 south and head two miles to fairgrounds on the right. Call 703/434-0005.
VIRGINIA STATE FAIR --
Sept. 20 to Sept. 30. Thousands of animals and more than 12,000 exhibits make this fair -- the state's 144th -- perhaps the largest in the region, and perhaps the biggest bargain. The admission of $9.95 ($7.95 in advance) at the gate includes all exhibits, grandstand entertainment, midway rides and other activities. Fairgrounds open at 8 daily. Exhibits are open Monday-Saturday 10 to 10, Sunday 11 to 9. The midway opens daily at noon and closes at 11 Sunday through Thursday and at midnight Friday and Saturday. The major acts, all included as part of the admission price, are T. Graham Brown at 8 on Sept. 20; Charlie Daniels Band at 4 and 8 on Sept. 21; Debby Boone at 5 on Sept. 23; Louise Mandrell with Paul Lennon at 2 (Lennon returns for a solo at 8) on Sept. 24; Jerry Clower at 8 on Sept. 25; Porter Wagoner at 8 on Sept. 26; the Glenn Miller Orchestra at 8 on Sept. 27; the E.U. Band at 8 on Sept. 28; the Four-Wheel Drive Band and Paul Lennon at 8 on Sept. 29, and Four-Wheel Drive sans Paul at 2 on Sept. 30. Advance tickets can be bought at Crown Service Centers and AAA offices or by mail by writing P.O. Box 26805 (Attention: Ticket Office) Richmond, VA 23261. Senior citizen days are Sept. 24 and 27, when admission for all 60 and older is $4. Parking is free. Take I-95 south to Richmond Exit 17, then take Chamberlayne Avenue south, turn left at the third traffic light onto Azalea Avenue and follow signs to the grounds. Call 804/228-3250. WEST VIRGINIA
WEST VIRGINIA STATE FAIR --
Through Saturday. This fair, a showcase for some top names in country music, is in Fairlea, W. Va., on U.S. 219 between Lewisburg and Ronceverte. Admission is $4 for all 12 and older. Parking is free. The entertainment lineup is George Jones and Johnny Cash on Friday and Steve B. and the Cover Girls and Willie Nelson on Saturday. Call 304/647-3247 for ticket prices and sales. For fair information, call 304/645-1090.