ROBERTSDALE — After having to cancel in 2020 for the first time in history, Baldwin County Fair organizers are preparing to host the 70th annual event beginning Tuesday, Sept. 21 and running through Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Baldwin County Fairgrounds and Coliseum in Robertsdale.
“I just want to tell everybody how much we appreciate their support over the last 70 years,” said A.B. “Sonny” Hankins, manager with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association. “We’ve been through hurricanes and everything else and were still able to have a fair. COVID got us, but we’re back and this year’s fair is going to be bigger and better than ever.”
After beginning life in Silverhill in the late 1940s, the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association took over the fair and built its first coliseum on Palmer Street in Robertsdale, where they hosted their first county fair in 1950.
The Baldwin County Fair stood for 69 years as the longest-running fair in the state before being canceled last year because of COVID-19 concerns.
Hankins, whose father was a founding member of the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association, has served on the board since 1958 and has served as fair manager with his wife Melinda since 2004.
The fair draws thousands of residents from throughout Baldwin County and the surrounding area each year.
Fair events will kick off Tuesday, Sept. 21 with the Baldwin County 4-H Animal Science Club Workshop, “How to Take Care of Animals and their supplies while at the Fair,” beginning at 5 p.m. at the arena.
The Arnold Amusement Midway is open daily beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and features $20 admission which includes all entertainment and midway rides.
Thursday features free admission for senior citizens and veterans from 5 to 7 p.m. with special entertainment by the Flashback band. Based in Georgiana, the home of Hank Williams Sr., but drawing members from all over, the band features a variety of music from country to oldies.
Friday and Saturday features $10 admission for those 12 and over. Tickets must be purchased for midway rides from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday. Midnight Madness begins at 10 p.m. Friday arm bands for unlimited midway rides until 1 a.m. are $20.
The midway opens at 1 p.m. on Saturday with $10 admission, plus ticket purchase, or purchase an arm band for $20 for unlimited rides until 5 p.m. Last blast arm bands can be purchased from 5 p.m. until the midway closes at midnight for a cost of $25.
Each year, the fair features more than 1,000 competitive exhibits, including antiques, art, crafts and hobbies, environmental art, scrapbooking, sewing, food preparation and preservation, horticulture and agronomy, photography and livestock exhibits, along with environmental exhibits, featuring schools and civic organizations.
“We just want to invite everybody inside the coliseum for cooking, canning, sewing and exhibits and everything that comes with the fair,” Hankins said.
In addition to numerous exhibits inside the coliseum, other annual exhibits include a Baldwin County museum exhibit, as well as livestock exhibits, a duck pond and baby chick exhibit, petting zoo, a circus and antique tractor shows outside, along with a youth sweet potato contest on Wednesday, sponsored annually by the FCCLA.
Another huge draw for the fair is the annual rodeo, hosted by Robertsdale’s own Bo Campbell, founder and president of the Professional Cowboy Association.
Events kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night featuring bareback and saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and breakaway roping and the ever-popular bull riding.
Rodeo Entertainer Extraordinaire T.J. Williams returns this year, along with special entertainment.
Pick up a copy of the Baldwin County Fair magazine at Gulf Coast Media or visit baldwincofair.com for more information.