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'Spinnin' On': County fair trying to stay on track following hurricane

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A tag is placed on a gift wrapped present made by Girl Scout Troop 903. The Pitt County Fair will receive entries from 1-6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m.-noon Monday.

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By Kim Grizzard
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sandra Weathersbee slogged through pouring rain on Saturday to arrive at the Pitt County Fairgrounds with a monkey, a snake, an owl, a rabbit, a cat and a panda.

The only thing missing was the ark.

The animals are not real; they are tiny, crocheted toys. But bringing them out in the aftermath of a hurricane was no small accomplishment.

Weathersbee was among a handful of people who showed up at the exhibit hall on Saturday with entries for the 2018 Pitt County American Legion Agricultural Fair. The fair, which is set to begin on Tuesday, did not open to accept entries on Friday due to tropical storm-force winds and the threat of flash flooding.

When officials opened the gates at 11 a.m. Saturday, at least one blue-ribbon hopeful was there waiting.

“We had one person waiting and one person after that, and it was pouring down rain,” exhibit hall Director Mary-Anne Brannon said. “I expected it. If it was me and I had a child that had been doing this, I would have made the attempt to get that child's work in.”

Weathersbee was delivering entries for her 84-year-old mother. Beverly Dickens of Winterville had been a prize winner at the county fair in years past, bringing home honors for crocheted replicas of pumpkin and blueberry pies. But she had not entered any of her paintings or crafts in decades.

“She's been showing her work to a friend, and her friend told her, 'You should enter it in the fair,'” Weathersbee said. “It really motivated her to do it.”

Weathersbee, who is Dickens' caregiver, wasn't about to let a little wind and rain spoil her mother's chances.

Marsha Hall showed up at the fairgrounds on Saturday morning as well, carrying boxes full of entries.

“We love the fair,” she said as she stood in line with her children, Jamey and Hackney.“We were worried that the fair would be canceled.

Ten-year-old Jamey said she was confident that the fair would go on.

“I always know that they have it,” she said. “They always find a way.”

Canceled following Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the fair has managed to go on almost every year for nearly a century.

Jamey, who plans to show a lamb at this year's fair, has won ribbons in the past for her entries in sewing, drawing and pottery. A member of Mane Challengers 4-H Club, she is entering sewing, pottery and weaving this year, along with a poster about a Jersey cow.

“I love that all the people smile when they come around looking at all the art,” she said. “That makes me feel really good because I made that.”

Her brother, who plans to show a goat at this year's fair, is entering some of his art in the pottery category for the first time.

Hall also brought nine entries from Girl Scout Troop 903 for the gift-wrapping category. She knew the girls would be disappointed if their decorated boxes didn't make it to the fair.

Fair officials are planning extended hours today and Monday to receive additional entries.

“We can't get everybody in in three hours that we normally would do all day long Saturday,” Brannon said.”The farmers that usually come and bring our crops, they can't get crops out of the field. It's too wet.

“I don't want to disappoint people that have looked forward to doing this,” she said. “We're going to do the best we can to accommodate the public.”

The 99th annual Pitt County American Legion Agricultural Fair is scheduled to be open on Tuesday through Sept. 23 at the county fairgrounds, 3910 Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. Hours for entries have been extended from 1-6 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to noon Monday. Visit pittfair.org or call 756-6916.

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