Tollgate Road is best location for Harford County Farm Fair

August 04, 2011

There have been some rumblings in the past two or three years that moving the Harford County Farm Fair from its home since it was re-established nearly quarter of a century ago might become necessary.

Certainly, the farm fair is one the more well-attended events in Harford County, with the Fourth of July festivities in Bel Air being one of the few things that's consistently a bigger draw.

The farm fair is a big event and has been since it started, and it has been associated since the beginning with the Harford County Equestrian Center on Tollgate Road in Bel Air.

Granted, there had been a county fair of sorts previously, but not on the scale of what's evolved at the equestrian center. This year was no exception. Thousands turned out to check out champion livestock and produce, not to mention a slate of all ages entertainment, even though the fair lacks a carnival midway, often a key attraction at county fairs. This speaks to a solid tradition of providing families with a decent value, even in hard times, and even when the weather is, well, oppressive.

And it's no accident that the tradition has grown up in Bel Air. The county seat and nearby equestrian center are within easy driving distance of a substantial portion of the people who live in the county. It's close enough to suburbia to make it convenient for commuters, yet close enough to rural areas to make it convenient for the people who raise livestock and produce.

Beyond tradition and being a relatively convenient location, the equestrian center is a good location for the farm fair to a large degree because of the farm fair. Over the years, the fair organization has convinced a lot of people to build a lot of amenities on the equestrian center grounds.

These pavilions, roadways, buildings and other improvements are used one week out of each year by the fair, but benefit the many other users of the equestrian center grounds most weekends, starting with the first days of spring and well into autumn.

Moving the fair to another location may become necessary some time, but an awful lot of thought should go into such a decision.

A lot of people have put a lot of time, effort and money into making the equestrian center and farm fair the successes they are, and there's a symbiotic relationship between the two. Both might suffer if that relationship changes.

By the way, congratulations to the organizers of this year's fair, which can fairly be called a success.

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