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Something for Everyone

Mark your calendars for the Cumberland County Fair, July 9–13.

by Lorinda Jarvis

Quick: What does magic, a pirate ship, a skillet tossing contest, cotton candy and stomach-flipping amusement rides all have in common?

Right. If you’ve lived in Cumberland County for any length of time, you already know the answer: It’s time for the Cumberland County Fair.

JoAnne Kowalski, president, and

Robin Ricci, vice president, of the Cumberland County Fair Association work hard all year to put together a

dizzying number of kid-friendly activities and adult competitions to keep everyone happy.

Add in the live music, the 4-H auction and contests. Cap it off with the most popular event of the entire week—the Demolition Derby—and you have a busy July week, a week of weird and wonderful things (toilet seat tossing contest? Oh, yeah) at the Cumberland County Fair.

Admission to the fair is $5 per person. Some activities require an additional fee.

Here is the lowdown on what the week includes. July 9-13: Cumberland County Fair, county fairgrounds in Millville.

• 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 9: Multiple 4-H events planned

• 2 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 10: Opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. Includes 4-H parade, speeches, flag-raising, blessing. All the participating clubs line up with banners and walk through the main promenade. Free admission for kids. Free firework display at 9 p.m. From 7 to 9 p.m., the featured music is oldies band Buried Edge. Also on Wednesday: A visit from Cole the Deaf Dog and Friends.

• 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 11: Senior citizens 65 or older or veterans, free with ID. Polka Pete and his Orchestra will perform at 7 to 9 p.m. on stage next to the Home Arts building. Organizers brought back the skillet toss and the toilet seat tossing competition, which will be held behind the main office at 6:30 p.m. Sign-ups begin at 5 p.m. For men and women ages 21 or older. Trophies will be awarded.

• 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 12: 4-H Club Barbecue (half barbecued chicken or barbecued pulled pork sandwich, $15 per serving. Fundraiser, 4:30 to 7 p.m.) National Barrel Racing Association to host a barrel racing event. In the horse arena, a series of barrels are arranged. Contestants enter the arena to complete the pattern of barrels, in the shortest time. The event is one of the most popular during fair week, Ricci said. Band featured is Roadhouse, from 7 to 9 p.m.

• 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 13: Demolition Derby Night (see box above right for fee). Featured band is Patti Lattanzi and Billy Carlucci and the Gang.

Ricci and Kowalski try to provide a diverse and entertaining lineup, especially for children. Here are a few of the extras visitors can expect to spot during the weeklong event:

• David Darwin is a one-man side show, who entertains with magic. Free. He will perform two shows Wednesday. “He’s really like a circus performer. He swallows swords, performs with fire and rides a unicycle and throws knives,” Ricci said.

• New to the county fair this year will be a 20-by-30-foot pirate ship. The ship, and its pirate instructor, will be at the fair from Wednesday through Saturday. The featured entertainer, who will perform as Jack Sparrow or Capt. Hook during shows, also teaches kids the ways of pirating. Plus, kids can tour the inside of the ship. Free.

• A stilt walker walks around the fairgrounds from Wednesday through Saturday.

• Hayrides are available for free during the week.

• Friday and Saturday: George the Magician, who creates giant bubbles to entertain children. He has a different twist on the average magic show and will have buckets set up throughout the fairgrounds to allow kids to make their own bubbles. Free.

• Wednesday and Thursday: Wristbands $40 per person, unlimited rides, adults or children.

For an extra fee: Monster truck rides will be held every day. The monster truck will take children for a ride at the back end of the fairgrounds.

New rules for entry into fairgrounds: The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, in cooperation with the Millville Police Department and the New Jersey State Police, has announced new restrictions. Ricci said no outside beverages, including coolers or water bottles, will be allowed onto the fairgrounds.

All bags will be subject to search. During the demolition derby, strollers and wagons will not be permitted in the bleacher area. A separate parking spot for strollers and wagons will be set up next to the entrance.

For the creative types in the family: Visitors may submit their prized crafts, paintings, flower arrangements as well as their best cakes, cupcakes, pies, canned goods and more to the Home Arts Building at the fairgrounds. Last year, more than 90 submissions were received, according to Kowalski. All submissions will be judged and ribbons as well as cash prizes will be awarded for Grand Champion, Best of Show and first-, second- and third-place winners.

Other features: Visitors will also find a few tables to stroll past that have crafts from vendors, home improvement ideas as well as novelties for children. In addition, the fair is expected to host a vendor with an Escape Room.

Hungry? Look for lots of food truck vendors to line the fairway this year. Ricci said visitors will be able to dine on everything from street corn, tacos and pizza to pulled pork, sausage and peppers, Greek food, hot dogs and plenty more. Of course, lemonade, kettle corn, funnel cake and ice cream will be available, too. The 4-H Leaders Association will offer ice cream and root beer floats for sale in the red 4-H Exhibit Building. The booth features Hy-Point Farms ice cream and is manned by 4-H parents, leaders and volunteers. Each cone sold supports the 4-H Leaders Association, which provides partial scholarships for 4-H youth to attend national 4-H trips and conferences.

Jersey Fresh farm markets will be set up to sell Jersey Fresh produce as well as products from area nurseries.

The 4-H Club hosts a large number of events during the county fair, including a live auction sale of chicken, beef and pigs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Livestock farm. Visitors bid on an animal and the meat will be delivered after it is processed for them.

Cumberland County 4-H events can be found on Facebook. A booklet will be handed out at the gate of various events sponsored by 4-H during the weeklong fair.

Rev Up the Engines

The Demolition Derby will take place at 7 p.m. July 13 at the Grandstand at the fairgrounds. The cost is $10 per person.

Ricci said the derby has a loyal fan base. Generally, the fair fills up the 1,500-seat grandstand venue each year.

“There are die-hard fans that attend the derby every year,” Ricci said. “There are people who come in droves to support local guys who have constructed one of these cars. It’s like rooting for your favorite football team to see whose car can get smashed up and still run at the end of the individual heat. They will start out and then get eliminated through different classes until they get to the winner.”

For rules of the Derby, check out Cumberland County Fair’s Facebook page, which contains submission rules.