Ah, late summer, when a young person’s thoughts turn to deep-fried candy bars, queasy Ferris-wheel rides and first dates at the pig races. Break out your gingham shirts, because we’ve rounded up the weirdest, wackiest and most fattening attractions at the area’s county fairs.
Eat Extreme Fair Food
Fudge Puppie Waffles — new to the Montgomery County Fair this year — are the culinary love children of a Belgian waffle and a fully loaded ice cream sundae. Spike your blood sugar further by topping them with candy, sprinkles, nuts and whipped cream.
Handle Real Animals
What kind of world are we living in where kids are no longer taught cow-milking in public schools? The Montgomery County Fair’s milking parlor fills this educational gap in exchange for a small donation to 4-H. More barnyard realness can be found at the nearby birthing center, where organizers say about six calves are born at the fair
each year. (Various times)
See Elvis Live
The jumpsuits! The pompadour! The pelvis! Washingtonian and Elvis tribute artist Lionel Ward brings the King’s greatest hits to the Prince William County Fair. He’ll perform with his New World Band. (Aug. 20, 7 p.m.)
Jam to the Hits of Yesteryear
The Great Frederick Fair’s biggest attraction this year is apparently a time machine, set to bring bands into our strange modern future to perform onstage. With REO Speedwagon, two-time Grammy winner Darius Rucker and country singer Vince Gill, the Great Frederick Fair can claim musical superiority over other area fairs — with the possible exception of the Maryland State Fair, which has Selena Gomez. (REO Speedwagon, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m., $42-$47; Darius Rucker, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m., $47; Vince Gill, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m., $47-$52)
Experience nail-biting, pulse-quickening drama as contestants vie for fame in these specialty competitions.
» Toilet Decorating
Feeling a little down in the dumps? Well, then you’ve gotta go to Montgomery County’s all-star toilet decorating contest! Sponsored by Silver Spring plumbers Best-Hill Service, this event is the “Project Runway” of the toilet-decorating scene. ($5 to enter; entries accepted Aug. 12 from 2 to 8 p.m.)
» Beautiful Babyhood
All babies are beautiful. But everyone knows that YOURS is the cutest. If you are a Howard County resident with a little angel under 3, you can enter Junior to be judged on “general attractiveness.” Organizers stress that the decision of the judges “WILL BE FINAL,” but the losers still get free ride tickets. (Aug. 13 at 10:30 a.m.)
» Celebrate Cigarettes
Many fairs crown beauty queens, but there’s only one title around that will make you go, “Wait, what?” The Charles County Fair will crown its 76th Queen Nicotina this year, in celebration of the county’s tobacco-raising heritage. One lucky high-school senior or college freshman will wear the coveted red velvet winner’s robe, stitched with gold tobacco leaves on the back — providing the individual is unmarried, has a C-or-better average and is sponsored by a local civic or educational organization. (Sept. 15, 7 p.m.)
» Enjoy ‘Professional’ Racing
Car racing is too loud, horse racing is too fancy, and dog racing is too depressing. The Arlington County Fair provides an adorable alternative with its annual pig races. So what if it’s over in 30 seconds? The cute factor is enough to make us squeal. (Various times, Aug. 11-13)
» Cheese Carving
Fifteen pre-selected participants will have 30 minutes to make an impression on judges AND a 2-pound hunk of Wisconsin cheddar. All creations will then be put on refrigerated display for the remainder of the fair. (Aug. 16 at 10:30 a.m.)
» Howard County Fair
Aug. 6-13; $5, free for kids 9 and younger; 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, Md.; 410-442-1022; Howardcountyfair.org.
» Arlington County Fair
Aug. 10-14; free; Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 S. Second St., Arlington; Arlingtoncountyfair.us.
» Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
Aug. 12-20; $10, free for kids 11 and younger; 500 Perry Parkway; Gaithersburg, Md.; 301-926-3100, Mcagfair.com.
» Prince William County Fair
Aug. 12-20; $8, $4 for kids 5-13, free for kids 4 and younger; 10624 Dumfries Road, Manassas, Va.; 703-368-0173; Pwcfair.com.
» Charles County Fair
Sept. 15-18; $5; free for kids 10 and younger; 8440 Fairgrounds Road, La Plata, Md.; 301-932-1234, Charlescountyfair.com.
» The Great Frederick Fair
Sept. 16-24; free Sept. 16 only; $7 after Sept. 16 and free for kids 10 and younger; 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.; 301-663-5895, Thegreatfrederickfair.com.