The unFAIRgettable MY Maryland State Fair returns to the Timonium Fairgrounds from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4 for the — get this — 136th time. With its amusement rides, corn dog concessions and big name concerts — this year’s will feature Disney’s Sabrina Carpenter and rock band Halestorm — it can be easy to lose sight of the fair’s agricultural roots. So after you Instagram that funnel cake, check out some the traditional farm-tastic events that will bring a little country to the Baltimore suburbs.
MY Maryland State Fair Grand Parade
This crowd-favorite will make its way around the racetrack on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 6 p.m. Though the parade took a hiatus from 1981 to 2016, it’s back and charming as ever. In addition to parade staples, like a marching band and color guard, expect to see some folksier fixtures, such as agriculture-related floats, antique farm implements, horses and vintage cars.
4-H/FFA Livestock Sale
It doesn’t get more farm than a cattle auction — and you get to see it in action on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. For the urbanites out there, here’s how a fair auction works: Students in the state’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America education programs show off the steer, lamb, goats and market hogs raised in their care. The livestock are judged by local experts and bought by companies and individuals alike. Each student will keep the proceeds for their education or future agricultural projects — so if you’re hankering for a new hog, the purchase will be worthwhile.
Battle of the Beast Bull Riding and Cowgirl Barrel Racing Competition
Saddle up for this wild fair (and farm) tradition, which takes place in the Horse Show Ring on Monday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. In the first event, 25 contestants from the International Bull Rider Association (IBR) face off rodeo-style, attempting to stay on their bulls for eight seconds with one arm in the air all the while impressing the judges with their riding finesse. In addition, cowgirls from across the state ride their horses in a timed, cloverleaf-shaped race around three barrels. It’s a spectacle that’s sure to beat the Tilt-a-Whirl.
Back before WWE, frontiersmen established their superior strength by much simpler means: arm wrestling. The state fair will make an event of this time-honored sport with its 10th consecutive competition on Saturday, Sept. 2, starting at 1:15 p.m at the Carolina Carport Stage. All fairgoers are invited to participate, and if you come out on top in your weight class, you’ll qualify to compete nationally at the Arizona State Fair in October. Your prize: bragging rights for years.
Swifty Swine Racing and Swimming Pig Show
Always wished you could get some facetime with an A-list celebrity? Catch the next best thing at the Swifty Swine Show, where nationally-touring hogs like Kim Kardashiham, Brad Pig, Justin Bieboar, Christina Hogulera, and Kevin Bacon compete for the crown. Each show will include three swine races and a performance from Swifty the Swimming Pig, and will take place five times throughout the day from Friday, Aug. 25 through Monday, Sept. 4 on the Midway near the Farm & Garden Building. See y’all there.
Photo courtesy of the State Fair Instagram.