By DAVID FOLSE II
Tammany West news
COVINGTON — For students throughout the parish, it’s the event that gives them a holiday from school.
However, for over 100 years, the St. Tammany Parish Fair has been much more than just a school holiday.
This year marks 102 years of the fair, which is set to begin in a little over a month. Fair Vice-President Sue Mathies said the event continues to be a staple of the community.
“You are talking about an event which can trace its roots back to the early 1900s,” Mathies said. “Back in the early days the fair was how farmers got together from across the region to show their crops and their animals, whatever they had to display and sell in the market.
“Of course the landscape of the parish has changed over the past 102 years,” she continued. “When the fair started, it was mainly agriculture. As time progressed, you started to see the implementation of fair rides, and the fair shifted from being targeted toward adults to families and kids.”
The fair is held at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds on Collins Boulevard in Covington and is set for the first week of October.
“It’s there every year,” Mathies said. “They used to have horse races there and in the early 1950s the association purchased the venue, and it is as we see today.”
Despite the recent shift toward more of a modern-day fair with rides and concessions, Mathies said the fair still holds true to its original roots.
“We still do have the crop division and the home economics division where the women bring their knitting and quilting,” Mathies said. “They will compete against each other still today. In addition, every school in the parish will still set up a booth which is designed by their students. Throughout the week of the fair, you can come see the different booths, and prizes are awarded. Needless to say, everything is still a competition at the fair.”
Run by a non-profit organization and 100-percent targeted to community interaction, the fair is actually put on by a small number of dedicated volunteers.
“There are about 12 members on the fair association,” Mathies said. “We meet multiple times throughout the year to plan the fair and work on things we want to add and things we want to get rid of in the upcoming fair. We want to try and make it better each and every year.”
The fair runs for an entire week, not just the school holiday of Friday, Oct. 3, a fact many people don’t realize.
“It actually starts on the Monday of the week of Oct. 3,” Mathies said. “Exhibitors bring in their products in which they want to display and compete for prizes. The 4-H and FFA departments of the local schools compete against each other as well, early in the week. We also get products from the LSU Ag Center, whether it is crops, hay, or really whatever people want.
“People have the chance to leave with prize ribbons and money,” she continued.
Admission is free the first four days of the fair, and Mathies encourages people to come out and check out the booths and products of farmers and other local citizens.
“The fair will actually open the rides on Wednesday of fair week,” she said. “But up until 5 p.m. on Friday, admission is free. After that it will be $2. It’s a great and very reasonable price to come out and get involved in the community.”
Fair-goers this year will notice a few features new to the 2014 fair.
“The craft booths where people can show and sell their merchandise are an addition to the fair this year,” she said. “We are really excited about it and we would love more community involvement in this as well. We are always looking for more ideas and want to make each and every year better than the previous one.”
Anyone interested in contributing their ideas, volunteering, or wanting to know more information about the fair can visit sttammanyparishfairinfo.com