The Louisa County Agricultural Fair will have a new home in 2021, shifting from the Louisa Firemen’s Fairgrounds to Walton Park in Mineral.
“The timing is right to make the move,” said Chris Gibson, Louisa Ag Fair president.
Gibson said that following the 2019 fair, which was his first at the helm, he wanted to find a way to get more people in the gate and better showcase the agricultural industry in the county.
“We looked at ways to use the entire fairgrounds in Louisa – not just the existing grounds and ballfield but also the parcel used for parking,” he said. “But to expand to that property we needed to solve the problem of parking.”
Gibson said they investigated numerous options. They included parking at the Louisa Arts Center, small lots around the fairgrounds, and a few residents’ yards. But when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 fair, Gibson used the extra time to look into alternative locations.
In the fall of 2020, Mineral Volunteer Fire Department Vice President Lloyd Runnett approached Gibson about moving the fair to Walton Park. The fire department had assumed ownership of the park from the town of Mineral in January 2020 and was looking for partnerships to showcase the property. The fair seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“[The Ag Fair board] went to Walton Park and looked around and after a walk through it felt like a great fit,” Gibson said. “There was more space than in Louisa and parking wouldn’t be an issue with the lot adjacent to the park. And we loved the amount of shade and other amenities already established at the park.”
The two groups entered into a lease agreement recently, allowing the fair to have access to the park for several weeks around the end of July when the event historically has taken place.
“Having the park exclusively for that time span has allowed us to bring back some of the events we have dropped over the years,” Gibson said. “One of those is the horse show. It gives us a great kickoff event.”
A portion of the beauty contest featuring older girls will be held at the Louisa Arts Center, likely the same weekend as the fair. The fair itself will begin on Thursday night with Family Night and the beauty contest for younger girls. Dinner Under the Stars will return as well.
“Walton Park offers us the ability to expand our exhibits and better showcase agricultural activities in Louisa County as well as add more entertainment and experiences to the fair,” Gibson said. “We also see Walton Park as offering us the ability to grow in the future not only in size, but in the exposure to agriculture we can spotlight.”
The park features an entertainment stage nestled under a grove of trees as well as a pavilion for picnics and other gatherings. The horse show ring hasn’t been used for shows in some time, but the Louisa County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has held the Fall Festival there for several years. With a few minor improvements, it will return to its original purpose.
The fire department and agricultural fair board believe working together will allow them to upgrade the park’s existing infrastructure, not only for them but for the community at large. Other groups wishing to host fundraisers at the park will benefit from the improvements and future additions that are planned for the 11-acre facility. Some of those upgrades include permanent restroom facilities, a new kitchen and updates to the stage area.
“We are excited for this partnership,” said Runnett, “and we can’t wait until July to see the park showcased in such a spectacular way.”
The agricultural fair is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 through Saturday, July 31. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at Louisa County Ag Fair or its website, louisacountyagfair.com.