Fair goes ‘hog wild’

With piano-playing hogs, a horse-naming competition and a star-studded music lineup, this year’s Hickory American Legion Fair is all about the kids, fair officials announced Friday.

The 98th edition of the annual fair is going “hog wild” in 2011, and officials said they are putting an emphasis on promoting agriculture this year. The fair will last from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.

Part of the “hog wild” theme includes actual hogs as well. This year, the fair has booked performing pigs that dance and play music.

“We’ve got hogs everywhere this year,” said Steve Mains, who chairs the Hickory American Legion Fair board. “We have entertainment that’s as good as the state fair and the mountain state fair, all at an affordable price.”

Whereas some fairs charge $25 entry fees, the legion fair charges only $7 for adults, $5 for kids, and nothing for anyone under the age 6.

Mains said entry prices were not raised due to the struggling economy.
Though financial times are tough, Mains said the fair actually benefits from the recession.

“Last year’s fair was the best one in years because people were staying here to go on vacation and not traveling,” Mains said. “I think it was successful because it’s cheap, family fun.”

As in past years, the fair offers special discounted nights and deals that will also ease the burden on the citizen’s wallet. On Thursday of fair week, students and veterans will gain admission to the fair for free as part of “school night.”  On Friday, senior citizens are admitted for free from 12-5 p.m., and rides cost $1 from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.

While fair prices are cheap, fair officials said the entertainment is first class. This year, the fair board assembled the largest amount of entertainment ever, said Bobby McLamb, chair of the N.C. Associations for Agricultural Fairs Artists and Attractions.

“We will have seven shows a day as well as a grandstand show at night,” McLamb said. “And this year, everything at the fair involves new attractions.”

The fair features both daily and nightly entertainment. During the day, citizens can see the pig-dancing “Pork Chop Review” that will have three shows daily, in addition to the illusions and escapes of magician Josh Knotts.

The fair also features nightly grandstand shows with “up and coming” country and rock and roll artists. McLamb said the nightly shows are at no additional cost to the customer and feature artists like Hicksboro Station, James Wesley and Ronnie McDowell.

Veteran appreciation

On Thursday, the fair will give a salute to veterans during a special ceremony at 7 p.m.

Fair officials hope the veteran’s celebration will be an opportunity to add to its “wall of honor” that features about 500 pictures of veterans, said Harry Flynn, the commander of American Legion Post 48. Flynn said he hopes to get 1,000 pictures on the wall.

Flynn said one of his main goals this year is to make veterans aware of the benefits they can receive for their service.

“I’m a strong proponent of benefits, and I think not enough veterans are aware of the different benefits that are available to them,” he said.


For the first time in history, the fair will adopt a carousel horse as its mascot.

The fair does not have a name for the horse yet and will have a contest to name the horse.

Citizens must pre-register for the contest, but the winner will receive $100 and a family pass to the 2012 fair, Mains said.