Don't let the "farm" in Farm Fair fool you. It's not just the 4-H poultry exhibits, livestock sales and plum jelly competition they're gearing up for at the Harford County Equestrian Center.
When the 1992 Harford County Farm Fair opens its four-day run on Thursday, you'll see as much evidence of county life in the 1990s as you'll see of traditional rural customs.
Among the attractions: a hot air balloon race, a sky-diving demonstration and an appearance by the Virginia Giant, a lean, mean, truck-like vehicle used to smash defenseless automobiles into saucers, delighting audiences of all ages.
"It was such a hit last year, we had to bring it back," said fair coordinator James Fielder. This year, the Giant takes center stage at prime time: 9 p.m. Saturday.
Of course, not everything at the fair will be fast and furious. Some of the fastest action you'll see will be the pig, goat and duck races, scheduled daily. And the children's activities will center on simple entertainment, including an animal barnyard, pony rides and face-painting.
The point of the fair, organizers say, is to combine the old and the new to provide "family entertainment" in an agricultural setting, which means no motorized rides and no midway games.
"This is not a carnival," said Mr. Fielder, who is also Harford's economic development director. "We want to educate people, to get them back to the agricultural roots of the county."
Hence, the demonstrations of blacksmithing, lumberjacking and many of the traditional crafts associated with homemaking.
Also, an expanded version of last year's antique car show, which included at least 150 vehicles, will take visitors back in time all day Sunday.
To get back into the '90s, visitors can pay a visit to the modern farm equipment display. In past years, the fair has displayed only antique agricultural equipment, says Mr. Fielder.
Organizers decided that in a time of such rapidly changing technology, demonstrations of new equipment would be far more educational.
Equally educational, they hope, will be the 2,500 4-H projects created by Harford County youngsters. Over half of the more than 600 members of the 4-H in Harford County are entering projects in the Farm Fair competition, says Elke Neuburger, exhibits coordinator.
The individual projects are the culmination of a year's work for the youngsters, who range in age from 8 to 18. They'll be competing in everything from raising a hog to training a dog, from growing vegetables to programming computers.
"Participation in 4-H has more than doubled since the Farm Fair started," says Ms. Neuburger.
This marks the fair's fifth year since its 1988 revival after a 25-year hiatus.
Mr. Fielder expects fair attendance to top last year's: 70,000 people in four days.
"All our entries in 4-H and home arts are running ahead of last year," he said, "so with good weather, attendance should be higher, too."
When: July 30-Aug. 2.
Where: Harford County Equestrian Center, North Tollgate Road.
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: adults, $3; children 7 to 12, $1; children under 7, free; seniors, $1 (seniors rate for Friday only).
Parking: in designated lots off Gateway Drive, behind Harford Mall; at Tollgate Mall; and at the Harford County landfill. Shuttle buses available to the site.