THE MARYLAND State Fair is a cornucopia of giant pumpkins, prize-winning scarecrows, flowers, quick breads and needlepoint through its Labor Day conclusion. But other displays and events take place one time only or on a special schedule. The following is a sampling of those fair highlights that hard-core fair buffs won't want to miss.
Tomorrow from 7 to 11 p.m. on the midway only, the State Fair gates open for Family Fun Night, when fair-goers pay $5 each to ride as many rides -- including the Giant Wheel -- as they want, play the midway's games, and sample the fare at food stands. An oldies band is scheduled to entertain.
Saturday at 7:30 a.m., the 110th Maryland State Fair officially kicks off with an 8-kilometer race, beginning at the fairground's Timonium Road gate. Register by 7 a.m. at the gate. There is a $10 entrance fee.
At 6 p.m., a hot-air balloon race ascends from the infield in a chase for the "hare" balloon. In case of rain or heavy winds, the race will take place Sunday. Saturday is also Pork Day at the Maryland Foods Pavilion, where pork products will be available for sampling.
Sunday, it's Bees and Beeswax Day in the Farm and Garden Building. Throughout the day, Rich and Joan Fleming will demonstrate how to mold this stuff into any number of useful novelties. Last year, they made beeswax Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
At 7 p.m. in the Cow Palace, 4-H queens from around the state will compete in the Maryland Farm Queen Contest. Contestants will be judged on poise, as well as their farming ability and accomplishments.
In celebration of Governor's Volunteer Appreciation Day, the Drifters, the Platters and the Shirelles will perform at an Oldies Extravaganza 8 p.m. in the Grandstand.
Monday, taste a little bit of the sea at the Maryland Food Pavilion, where seafood will be the feature of the day.
Also Monday at 8 p.m. in the Cow Palace, a carnival of animals will take place. In this costumed animal show, young 4-H members dress up their cows and pigs in homemade garb. While the festooned beasts parade around a ring, a narrator will read the contestants' original animal tales explaining their farm pets' get-ups.
Tuesday, sample lamb specialties at the Maryland Foods
Pavilion. At 8:30 a.m., the senior Western 4-H Horse and Pony show takes place in the horse show ring.
Wednesday is Senior Appreciation Day. Seniors, ages 60 and older, will be admitted to the fair for free. At 6 p.m. in the Cow Palace, livestock, including the fair's grand champion, will be sold by the pound. After a year's hard work raising their livestock, Future Farmers of America and 4-H members put hogs, lambs, beef and dairy steers on the block in one big sale.
Next Thursday, Aug. 29, is Governor's Day, so look for Gov. William Donald Schaefer as he makes award presentations or practices his aim at a midway target shoot.
Aug. 29 is also egg day in the Farm and Garden Building, where poultry projects participants will explain interior and exterior egg quality, display their chickens, and prepare a special breakfast demonstration at 10 a.m.
At 8 p.m. in the Cow Palace, 4-H tailors and seamstresses will show off their handiwork in a fashion review.
Aug. 30, innocent or guilty? You decide. Maryland judges and trial lawyers will perform in a series of live mock trials sponsored by the Maryland Bar Association at 6:30 p.m. in the Trial by Jury Tent. The public is invited to participate. (These trials will take place throughout the fair.)
As usual, hore racing will be a major part of the fair's activities. Racing will take place every day, with post time at 1 p.m. and the last race running at about 5 p.m.
PD For more information about State Fair activities, call 252-0200.