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Dear Ace: Why is the Albemarle County Fair set to happen in August this year?—Fairly Confused

Fairly: Ace also wonders about this unexplained change in date. He knows when he wants his funnel cakes and farm animals, and that’s in September, darn it! But nooo…this year Ace has to book his partying for August 2-7, the new fair dates!

   Did an oracle forewarn the fair to “Beware the Ides of September?” Is the Farmer’s Almanac predicting a Class 4 hurricane during the second week of September? Is The Weather Channel now employing clairvoyant meteorologists?

   Hoping for a wildly psychic explanation, Ace contacted Albemarle County Fair Executive Director Barbara Lundgren to divine some answers. She says that the fair date change occurred for two main reasons, neither of which, it seems, have anything to do with the weather.

   Traditionally, Fairly, county fairs are sort of the last hurrah of summer freedom. When the annual event began 24 years ago, the planners scheduled the dates to coincide with the last week of summer vacation. But since local schools have been starting earlier, fair attendance numbers began to drop. Holding the fair before the school year begins will encourage the fair-going public to show up, it’s hoped.

   The County Fair Board of Directors also wanted to avoid the UVA home football schedule. Rather than compete for the public’s attention as well as county police resources, the Board decided to bypass these problems altogether by changing the date.

   So, how many people are expected to make it out to the fair on the new dates? According to Lundgren, they anticipate around 30,000 people, which would be 6,000 more than the all-time highest number of attendees.

   In addition to the new date, the fair has also beefed up the attractions. With a new amusement company and reduced-price rides, fair-goers can expect a bigger, better and cheaper fair than in years past.

   Don’t worry Fairly, if you’re like Ace, and rides are just not your thing, (there was that regrettable incident on the Scooby-Doo roller coaster, but Ace digresses…) this year’s fair boasts three new livestock shows, a jousting competition, a barbecue cook-off and special kiddie land geared towards small children.

   Still, the success of the date change ultimately depends on another more uncontrollable fact. Join Ace in hoping for great weather.

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