An Agrarian Past -- and Present ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

September 21, 1993

Anne Arundel has become an increasingly urban place over the past two generations, which may explain why its annual farm fair receives less fanfare than those in counties such as Carroll and Frederick. Nonetheless, the 41st edition of the fair, which ended last weekend, was evidence that county residents continue to value their agricultural heritage.

Though the Anne Arundel fair boasts rides and a midway, its main draw remains the agricultural exposition itself -- the hundreds of sewing, canning, baking and craft projects, farm animals and picture-perfect garden vegetables. And while 4-H participation does not compare to that in the more rural counties, it is growing steadily. The county has 20 4-H clubs and 1,300 4-H'ers.

These tend to be associated with farm animals and rural areas such as South County, but interestingly most of Anne Arundel's 4-H'ers live in the urbanized North County. Some of them belong to animal-related clubs, such as the Anne Arundel 4-H Dairy Leasing Club, which gives kids who don't live on farms a chance to work with dairy cows from the Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills. Most, however, are busy with non-farm activities, such as community service and crafts.

Anyone who toured the exhibits knows how accomplished some of these 4-H'ers are. The champion sewing project, for example, done by Jason Thompson, 16, of Pasadena, was a wool topcoat that could have been on a rack for sale at any fine men's store. We congratulate Jason and all of the fair winners. Their accomplishments reflect not only their own talents but the county's continued diversity.

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WHY SO LATE?: During the fair, we overheard two questions that puzzled us, too: Why is Anne Arundel's fair scheduled so late? And doesn't the fact that it is held after the State Fair mean local entrants don't get to compete in Timonium?

Ag extension agent Sandra Mason tells us that all the southern Maryland counties (including Anne Arundel) hold their fairs later. Anyone who wants to take projects to Timonium can, and enter the county fair later. Those entering market animals are an exception; if they sell the animals in Timonium, they obviously can't enter them here.

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