HAMLET – Since 1958, the Richmond County Agricultural Fair has been staged in Hamlet at, appropriately enough, the area informally referred to as “The Fair Grounds” at the corner of Hamlet Avenue and Lewis Breeden Drive.
The Hamlet Lions’ Club is the fair’s promoter, and Lions’ Club President Bill Bayless encourages everyone to come out, have fun, and contribute to multiple worthy causes in the process.
The Lions’ Club is responsible for direct contributions to multiple types of charitable and otherwise supportive assistance throughout the nation, and this is particularly so here in Richmond County.
“The proceeds from the fair are returned to the community in so many ways,” says club treasurer Jerry Thomas. “The Hamlet Lions’ Club, along with the clubs in Rockingham and Ellerbe, provides money for scholarships at Richmond Senior High School, as well as optical supplies and other necessary services for visually impaired persons (our VIPs).”
Those services have included the purchase of a $100,000 SPOT machine that can detect vision issues via a scan of the eye. The Sunshine Club is also a benefiting subsidiary of the Lions Club; its 13 members meet at the club on the second Thursday of each month as a support group for the visually impaired.
Facilitated by Inners & Sons Amusements, the Richmond County Agricultural Fair has been very successful and well-orchestrated throughout the years that they have operated in Hamlet. Owner and operators Ed and Tom Inners are very well-respected by the Lions Club officials and have been contracted to run the show for several years.
President Tom Inners indicates that his family has operated the company since 1909 and that this is the only life he has ever known.
“I have to admit that I am a carnival food junkie,” Inners said when asked to make a recommendation of culinary cuisine that should be sampled, “so it’s all good to me!”
Inners also touts the appeal of the Ferris wheel as the most popular ride, noting that there is something for all generations in a vertical glide through the air.
Bayless is quick to point out that the fair would not be possible without the direct contributions of others as well.
The locally owned Mercantile on Broad in Rockingham (“The Pet & People Place”) is especially supportive of the Agricultural Fair, providing feed for the animals.
Other local supporters include Vulcan Gravel Supply, as well as individuals such as Buddy Mullins and Larry Stogner.
Lions Club members Charles and Ann Wheeler stay busy with the “behind the scenes” efforts, as does Chris Monroe (who was cited as one of the most important cogs in the well-synchronized machinery; seems that Monroe is everywhere doing everything at most any given moment).
AmVets Honor Guard member Johnny Patrick has been busy erecting his organization’s tent while simultaneously playing the role of grandpa – he had two little “helpers” throughout the process.
“The AmVets are here to offer our food services as a way of then giving back to the community,” Patrick said. “We help feed fairgoers and then channel the funds into projects such as building handicap ramps, helping to sponsor the JROTC program at the high school, and, perhaps most importantly, providing military honor guard services for the funerals of area veterans.”
Patrick pointed out that the military normally sends only two active personnel for a veteran’s funeral; the rest are members of the local AmVets Honor Guard.
“We served at 38 funerals in Richmond County last year alone,” Patrick noted.
Gates for the fair open at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday with an admission fee of only $5. Rides will commence an hour after the opening, with tickets available individually or for a discounted bulk price.