Century Farms in county fair spotlight

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Some of the estimated 17 Century farm owners in Bedford County showed up at the Chamber Coffee Tuesday morning, hosted by the Bedford County Fair, which starts Monday. From left are Patsy Spencer Richardson, Mark and Mary Jane Ashley, Bobby Vannatta, Dwight Stubblefield and Mr. and Mrs. Winston Roberts. (T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)

The roots of the county fair are roots indeed -- resting deep in the agricultural history of Bedford County. When the fair opens Monday at the Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center, you'll get to see just how deep those roots can run.

"This year at the fair, we're honoring our Century Farms," said Judy Gambill, the president for this year's fair. She spoke at the Chamber Coffee Tuesday morning. The chamber's monthly get-together was sponsored by the fair and allowed members and visitors the chance to meet some of the county's Century Farmers.

For a farm to be classified as a Century Farm, it has to meet certain criteria.

"It has to be used continuously for farming," said Mark Ashley, whose farm on Highway 130 has been in his family for more than 200 years. "It has to be the same family for at least 100 years. As Mr. (Dwight) Stubblefield says, the name changes, but the bloodline stays the same."

Ashley and Stubblefield, another Century Farmer, were among those to speak, each giving snippets of history about their legacies.

"We've been farming it since 1855," said Stubblefield, referring to his property in the Raus community. "We've got fifth and sixth generations now -- we're still there."

At the fair Monday, these farmers will have a special area set aside to visit with those wanting to know more about their land and their history.

"We invite y'all out to the fair!" said Gambill.

The events actually kick off Saturday this year with the Fairest of the Fair pageant, which begins at 10 a.m. On Sunday, those entering home economics and agriculture exhibits can take them to the center between 1 and 5 p.m. On Monday, those exhibits will be judged in the morning, and the official opening of the fair takes place at 6 p.m.

After the opening, the exhibits will be open to the public, as will the dairy show.

Those wanting to compete in the county's own talent showcase, "Bedford County's Got Talent," need to register at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee.

The age groupings for the competition are: 5 and under; 6-11; 12-17; and 18 and older. There will be cash prizes of $15, $10 and $5 in each age category and contestants will be admitted free to the fair. For more information, call Nicole Nichols at 492-1622 or Judy Gambill at 842-4242.

The bicycle competitions are also Monday night, with classes that include Peewee 50 yard dashes, lap races, a seniors race, and a slow race for those 12 and older. Ribbons will be awarded in all classes and the championship race will offer cash prizes of $25, $10 and $5.

Tuesday night features Sam Powell, a horse whisperer demonstrating his amazing ability to train horses by understanding their body language and psychology. There will also be the open beef show, the Red Hat Society and Industrial Night.

Wednesday is both Senior Citizens' and Youth Day and events start early, with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. For the seniors there will be a 'Fun festival,' Bingo, and lunch.

The day will also offer music from the Strung Out Bluegrass Band at 11:30 a.m. and the Cavaliers Gospel Quartet at 7 p.m. for Faith Night. The Fun Dog Show begins at 7 p.m., but the pets must be registered at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday features cloggers, an open beef show, tug-of-war and the Smoker Truck and Tractor Pull.

On Friday, the sheep take the ring for the "Wool and Woolies review." There will be an open sheep show, followed by a lamb and commercial ewe show. The lawn and garden tractor pull is at 6:30 p.m. and the All Pleasure Horse Show is at 7 p.m. Dwayne Drake and band will provide the Friday night entertainment.

For those who missed the mules and donkeys at the Celebration show last weekend, or for those who can't get enough of the long-eared critters, there will be another chance on Saturday. The last day of the fair will have the miniature donkey show, mule pulling and mule show. And if you prefer your horsepower to run on diesel instead of sweet feed, there's the antique tractor exhibit and show, followed by the antique tractor pull.

And it wouldn't be a county fair without a carnival. The carnival opens at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.