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Grit and Glitter: Faces of the State Fair of Virginia

A photo essay featuring the people who make the fair possible.



With the arrival of the Virginia State Fair, summer fades into fall. Days grow cooler and nights arrive sooner. The smell of fresh-cut hay greets visitors to the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, where our backyard turns from farmland into a magical whirl of midway rides, deep-fried everything and blaring country music. The crowds, so diverse that every nationality seems represented, get along peacefully. Turkey legs are munched on, funnel cakes devoured, teenagers play the age-old see-and-be-seen game on the festival loop. Parents spend wads of cash while kids run wild-eyed for the next adventure. Wonderment is manifested in the romantic dream of the country fair, a reality brought by the quiet hard work and dedication of fair workers and competitors.


Kendall Lands, 9
Equine Competitor

“I’ve been riding since I was about 6 months old. This is my horse, Snowman. I compete in lots of the competitions. I just love horses.”


Pam Rosaires, 25
Sarasota, Florida
Owner and Announcer, Rosaire’s Royal Racers

“I grew up doing this, it’s always been a family business. My parents just retired and now my fiance and I have taken over. It’s exciting to see the kids’ faces when the races start.”


Doris Drury, 60
Almond Beach, Florida
Owner, the Ice Tea Lady

“I brew a fresh new pot of tea every hour, all day long. My granny told me old tea is bad for your kidneys. I like being on the livestock side of the fair, near the 4-H kids. Livestock people will jump right in and help you. They are country people like me.”


Angel Lopez, 24
Bakersfield, California
Co-owner, Nukixx, All-Purpose Cleaner

“Saturday was crazy here. Huge crowds. We made a lot of money. People spend 60, 70, 80 dollars on shoes and this cleaner makes them look new. No need to go buy new shoes.”


Bobby Goodwin, 75
Announcer, Draft Horse Competition

“Two or three times a year, for the last 51 years, I’ve been the announcing horse competitions in Virginia. But I’ve been a farmer all my life.”


Michael Parks, 40
Miami, Florida
East Coast Airbrush

“The smile on the kids’ faces keeps me going. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. On a good day I can paint between 70 and 100 shirts.”


Alan Hines, 52
Pa Paws Seafood

“I’ve been doing this since 1994. I just enjoy the people. The State Fair said they needed more seafood so this year we’ve added crawfish.”


Hayley Daubert, 11
Livestock Exhibitor

“This is my third year showing at the State Fair. Suzy Q. weighs about 1,500 pounds. I’ve had her since she was six months old. I just like cows.”


Elvin Click, 57
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Owner, Knockerball

“I’m in the hay and straw business so this makes sense because we use that as barriers. But I just enjoy seeing everyone have a good time. We had 850 kids go through on Saturday.”


Maria Ruiz, 49
Felipe Sanchez, 41
Ithaca, New York
Owners, Andes Handmade

“This is our first time to the Virginia State Fair. What a beautiful location. We use to have stores in Ithaca and Queens, New York. But our kids are grown, so we’ve decided to try the festivals. We sell handmade goods from Peru made with 100 pure alpaca wool.”


Pam Richards, 57
Volunteer, Democratic Party of Virginia

“I’m for Hillary. I’m in her camp. I do it all — voter registration, canvassing, you name it.”


Thomas Tucker, 66
Locust, North Carolina
Owner, WoodWright traditional woodworking

“For me this is a 30-year project, but this week it’s hands-on for the kids. That’s why I’m here.”


Zach Boswell, 27
Organ Cave, West Virginia
Cook, Hog Wild Bar-B-Que

Stacey Grubb, 53
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Server, Hog Wild Bar-B-Que

“I like being near the horse competitions — it’s more laid back over here. I’ve been eyeing that pink saddle over there. I’d like to take it home, but then I’d need to buy a new horse to go with it.”


LeeAnne Meadows, 63
Tourism Manager, Meadow Event Park

“This year we have the world’s largest horseshoe, 610 pounds. It’s certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.”


Howard Miller, 84
Lafayette, Indiana
Owner, Porky’s Catering and Concessions

“I’ve owned this business for 33, 34 years. I’m on the road all year long. People think they can go into the concessions as a retirement job. I got news for them. It’s a lot of hard work and there’s tons of competition.