THERE IS NOTHING like putting slow-moving, roly-poly, snout-nosed pigs on a racetrack to get a crowd's adrenaline pumping. The waddling porkers may not know the difference between a pigpen and a makeshift track on county fairgrounds, but they sure do know how to entertain.
Longtime Fauquier County Fairgoers are well versed in rooting for unlikely animal athletes. There will also be duck and goat races at this year's Fauquier County Fair, which runs through Sunday.
The 54th annual event promises the usual agricultural exhibits, including livestock in the barn; midway rides; contests; and plenty of live entertainment beyond animal races on the Hogway Speedway. Music every night includes Grand Ole Opry country crooner John Conlee and southern rockers Confederate Railroad.
In a region that is still largely rural, festivities continue to honor those roots with the first-ever "Biggest Redneck Contest," in which participants need to adeptly spit chewing tobacco, and a crowd favorite since it was introduced five years ago: "Cow Pie Bingo," a game that depends on where a cow unloads its digestive matter.
"We have a little bit of everything, like you used to see at old-time country fairs," said Tammy Roop, one of the fair organizers.
Although the fair introduced bigger carnival rides last year because of fairgoer demands, it continues to emphasize exhibits of local residents' photography, quilts, jams, artwork, flowers, vegetables and animals.
Roop says that there was an explosion in animal entries this year, something that separates Fauquier's fair from those of nearby counties, some of whom have to borrow animals from Fauquier just to have such exhibits at their fairs.
"I don't know why, but there's more chickens, more beef, more dairy, more goats and more rabbits. We're an agricultural community, so it's a great thing for us," she said.
There's also a hot dog eating contest, a dinner made with only homegrown food, a Wild West-themed show, an animal sound mimicking contest, a beauty pageant, stock car races, pony and camel rides, and a petting zoo.
The remaining three days of events and activities -- the fair opened Thursday -- are housed on 10-acre grounds, inside and outside tents, gazebos, craft stalls and makeshift barns. Last year, an estimated 15,000 people attended the fair.
"We want to provide some entertainment to Fauquier because it needs it," Roop said. "We don't have a lot going on out here, so this is a way to give the community a little bit of entertainment."
FAUQUIER COUNTY FAIR -- 6209 Old Auburn Rd., Warrenton. 540-351-6086 or www.fauquierfair.org. Open Friday from 11 to 10, Saturday 9 to 10 and Sunday 10 to 7. Admission to the fair is $5 per person. Rides and food are extra.