West Virginia State Fair offers something for everyone

You know the drill: company is coming, so you are sweeping, dusting, and fluffing pillows to make the house look good. Imagine if you were expecting hundreds – no thousands of people to stop by and visit.

That is just what is happening this week at the State Fairgrounds. They are adding the “spit & polish” to present their best for visitors to the 2022 West Virginia State Fair, held August 11-20 in Fairlea.

Everyone knows I love the Fair. As I enter the gate, I love starting my day with a breakfast of steaming hot pizza from a nearby vendor, then scurrying to the West Virginia Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden. This spot will be my home base for the day.   

The garden is fabulous. This year’s abundant rainfall has helped the plants grow taller than usual, especially the Pink Diamond Hydrangeas. Before you ask, yes, the tall zinnias are still there – talk about an instagramable moment; they provide the perfect backdrop. 

Cement walkways make the garden accessible to everyone. As you travel through, take note of the Memorial Garden, the Zen Garden, and Herb Garden spaces. 

Each has a distinct feel yet is part of the overall Demonstration Garden design. 

The Children’s Garden and the interaction with the kids who come through is my favorite spot. I have volunteered there for years. The little ones are just having fun, but I know they are learning to love being surrounded by plants and spending time in the garden. Oh, there is an occasional neat-nick who doesn’t like dirt on their little hands, but most kids love a garden, and the local MG groups make sure there are activities to engage all ages.

Adults are intrigued by the high tunnel and the Heritage Garden; both show innovative ways to grow vegetables and fruits. I am amazed at the quality of the produce. There are surprises of new varieties and new growing methods every year. Visitors often ask what happens to the crops. Nothing is wasted. The harvest from both the Heritage Garden and high tunnel is donated to local food banks.  

This Demonstration Garden receives full sun. This is just one of the reasons the garden flourishes. I like to say everything grows better in Greenbrier County, and it does, but it also has year-round care provided by the Greenbrier County Master Gardeners. They plant, prune, and fuss over this garden throughout the year to guarantee it will peak during Fair Week.

Of course, I’m partial to the garden, but I find time to visit all the exhibits. Quilts and photography are displayed indoors and provide a respite from the heat. So are the vegetable and flower entries. These are not your ordinary veggies and flowers. They are the best of the best and are awarded blue ribbons as proof.

Mid-afternoon, I take a break from the garden and visit the barns. I think the pigs might be my favorite, but don’t tell the cows or llamas. I get a kick from seeing the llamas and goats in their chic, fashionably loud colored covers used to keep their coats clean for showing.  

Speaking of cattle, don’t forget to stop by the Dairy Birthing Center. There you are guaranteed to see a newborn calf, maybe one that is just hours old, what a treat to see a new life begin.

Ben Ellen’s cinnamon and sugar donuts are worth the wait if you have a sweet tooth or need goodies to bring home. If you have heard rumors about Son’s-Sational Cinnamon Rolls – believe everything. They are crazy good. Be prepared to stand in line, often up to an hour. Once you make it to the window, I suggest buying a few extra for the road or freezer.

It’s been a few years since I went to concerts, but top names appear nightly. 

Visit www.statefairofwv.com  for the full schedule of entertainment and events.

Plants, animals, music, and food – seriously, what’s not to love about the WV State Fair. The barns have families that are willing to answer questions about the animals, and the garden has a slew of volunteer Master Gardeners and Extension Agents that will gladly talk plants. The “experts” are knowledgeable, and so are the visitors. 

I learn from the casual conversations with guests just as I learn from the extension agents. It’s almost Fair time, and I hope to see you there.