Racing pigs, a decorated potato contest, a baby pageant and a groomed pet competition will highlight the 41st annual Prince William County Fair, scheduled for Aug. 10-18 at the Manassas Fairground.
More than 1,000 exhibits, including displays of livestock, poultry and rabbits, home arts, farm and garden produce and flowers, also are planned, along with carnival rides, a circus, a petting zoo, a daily grandstand program and the ever-popular tractor pulls, said fair general manager Joe Johnson.
"We are expecting a big crowd to come out, if we get nice weather," Johnson said. "We think we'll have a nice fair this year."
About 110,000 people are expected to attend the event, which organizers said is the largest such event in the state where an admission is charged. A fair in Salem draws more people, but it is free, Johnson said.
This year's crowd is expected to top the 103,000 people the fair attracted last year, setting a record for recent years, Johnson said. Twenty-five years ago, the event drew as many as 125,000 people, he said.
Fairground doors will open at noon daily, with carnival rides beginning at 2 p.m. There is no set closing time, but organizers generally lock the doors before 10:30 p.m., and earlier if the crowd thins out, according to Johnson.
For the first time this year, Sunday, Aug. 12, has been slated for Family Day. The program will include Clay and Sally Hart, formerly of the Lawrence Welk Show, and the Rising Water Dancers and Falling Water Drummers, a Native American act.
Another favorite is the carnival, which will have about 40 rides. Unlike many fairs, additional fees are not charged to ride. General admission for the fair is $8. For children under 6 and for people over 60, the cost is $4, Johnson said.
"One charge is all you pay here and that includes all the rides," Johnson said. "That's unusual for this area, but we have found that it works best that way. That admission also includes the shows."
A bluegrass music program is scheduled for Aug. 14; in past years there has been a country-western show, but financial constraints have eliminated it, Johnson said.
"We can't afford any longer to pay groups that would draw a large crowd," Johnson said. "Years ago we would run what was considered the only show in town for country music."
Special features of the fair will include the pig race, featuring "little pot-bellied" pigs, he said. Last year the race was run for the first time and proved to be extremely popular, fair assistant Evan Swank said.
"A lot of people were buying them as pets," Swank said. "We have a little track set up with food at the end."
The fairground is off Highway 234 just outside Manassas. For schedule information call 368-0173.