Photos

In 90th year, W.Va. State Fair still a big draw

Charleston Daily Mail photo by Craig Cunningham Riders get a thrill on the “Full Tilt” ride at the State Fair of West Virginia in Lewisburg. The fair continues through Saturday.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Craig Cunningham
Riders get a thrill on the “Full Tilt” ride at the State Fair of West Virginia in Lewisburg. The fair continues through Saturday.

FAIRLEA, W.Va. — Some journey to the State Fair of West Virginia for fried funnel cakes covered with powdered sugar or mouthwatering cinnamon rolls. Others travel to Fairlea for the promise of thrill-seeking carnival rides, livestock competitions, A-list celebrity concerts and the general welcoming atmosphere.

But whatever the reason, one thing is certain — the State Fair continues to draw people from across the state back year after year.

Lisa Smith traveled more than two hours from her home in Midway to go to the State Fair with her family.

“I’ve been coming here ever since I was a little girl,” she said, adding that her favorite part of the fair was visiting the animals and the different exhibits. “I haven’t been in several years, but it’s still pretty much the same.”

This year marks the 90th anniversary for the fair. It began in 1854 when the Greenbrier Agricultural Society created the event to showcase the local farmers’ accomplishments, and continued until March 19, 1921, when the Shorthorn Association Show helped establish the fair as an annual tradition.

Marlene Jolliffe, the CEO of the State Fair of West Virginia, describes the fair as a “gigantic family reunion” where it has become an annual tradition for people to visit from in and out of state.

 “I was asked the question the other day ‘Why do you think the fair is so successful?’ and it’s hard to pick one thing, but then I really realized it wasn’t. I think it’s the people. West Virginians really love their State Fair and it’s celebrating who we are and they have fun here and it’s just good, clean, family fun,” she said.

“I heard a little girl say to her dad ‘But, Dad, it’s a tradition for us to do this every year — we got to go do it.’ And I wanted to stop and ask what it was, but it’s that passing on of fun, unique things — we’re not packaged, we’re not cloned, everything we do is real…

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