Heat doesn’t keep fair crowds away

Despite temperatures hovering near the 100-degree mark, crowds continue to flock to the Prince William County Fair in record numbers.

In the first five days of the 53rd annual event, 48,000 spectators have passed through the gates — an increase of about 15,000 from the same time last year.

“Usually, we draw the biggest crowds the last four days of the fair. Last year, we drew about 47,000 those days so if we can equal or top that figure we should come close to drawing 100,000 this year,” said Randy Fox, manager.

Last year’s total attendance was 80,000 as rain storms kept fairgoers away during the opening three days.

One of the largest Tuesday crowds in the history of the fair turned out to take advantage of half-price day.

“We had 9,962 show up on Tuesday — nearly double what we had been drawing in the past,” Fox said. Most were taking advantage of the carnival rides or came to watch the fireworks display.

Special acts — the Fores Thrill Show, Wildside Encounters and the Mapapa Thrill Show — were pulling in capacity crowds.

“If you weren’t one of the first ones to come, the seats were all gone and crowds had to jam in to see the animals perform,” said Don Shaw, owner of Wildside Encounters. He has been putting on three shows nightly.

Tonight’s grandstand show is the final of three demolition derbies and a grand champion driver will be selected, based on a point system on how he or she did in the three nights of destruction.

Theda Smith of Manassas was the winner of the initial demolition derby on Monday night. She also won the second of four heats. Stanley Smith, who captured the third heat, came in second overall. Jimmy Dean won the first heat and Philip Morris the fourth.

In the initial night of the tractor-truck pull, Bobby Martin of Chambersburg, Pa., driving “New Dairy Deere,” won the Super Pro division; Temple Brizendine of Center Cross won the Four Wheel Drive division with “Footloose”; and Ralph Wilson of Huntington, Md., won the Two Wheel Drive division on “Renegade.”

A gospel music show with Greg Dodson will take place tonight in the show barn at 7 p.m. The Buckhall Dancers will perform Friday at 8:15 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the show barn to close out the local performing groups at the fair.

The fair will close out its nine-day run on Friday and Saturday with a rodeo.

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