While there were still a few more hours before Easton Corbin was set to perform on the Main Stage and before the next Miss Appalachian Fair was to be selected and crowned, there were plenty of things to keep the growing crowd at the 87th Appalachian Fair in Gray occupied Monday afternoon.
The rides and various food vendors seemed to be instant attractions as visitors stood in line to ride the X-Factory or chowed down on fair food favorites, but one building that had a constant flow of people was the Barnyard Nursery.
Inside kids and adults knelt down to get eye-to-eye with a goat or a bunny, and a big crowd continued to gather around the pond area to watch as baby ducks slid down a makeshift slide into the water.
Lori Lewis, of Jonesborough, was walking through the nursery with her son, Skyler, 3, and said the two were having a great time at the fair.
“We’re having a blast. The kids are playing with the animals and watching the ducks,” Lewis said. “They never see any of these animals a whole lot and they can pet them. They never get a chance to actually see them ... being in the city all the time, so they really like it.”
She said she’s been coming to the Appalachian Fair for about 13 years, and said Monday won’t be their last visit this week.
“We’ll probably come back Saturday and let the kids come in and we’re hoping to come back Thursday to see Florida Georgia Line,” Lewis said. “We love the rides and they have some really good shows.”
Best friends Meredith Jackson and Abigail Price were also wandering the Barnyard Nursery and said they always team up when it’s fair time.
“We came twice last year,” Price said.
She said she was excited to ride different rides this year, including her favorite ride, the Cyclops.
“I like how they sometimes change it up with the different rides or they’ll take some other away and then they’ll bring new ones in,” Price said.
Jackson said she enjoys seeing all the different animals at the fair.
“I love the animals. I just do. They’re so soft and cute,” she said.
Walking through the nursery with her daughters Allie, 5, and Charlotte, 4, Katie Hallenbeck said they arrived at the fairgrounds when it opened at 3 p.m., to give the girls a chance to do and see as much as possible.
“We came in and got the all-you-can-ride pass deal, and so they’ve ridden all the rides that they can ride,” Hallenbeck said.
She said before coming to visit the animals, the girls also did face painting and a pony ride.
Hallenbeck said it was fun to see the girls enjoy the same things she used to enjoy when she used to attend the Appalachian Fair as a kid.
“It’s fun for them and it’s still fun for me to come, too,” Hallenbeck said. “It’s just a different experience from what you can get in the day to day in Johnson City. It’s kind of a slower pace. We don’t have the rides, we don’t have the animals out. It’s always the same. It doesn’t change and I think it’s really nice that there’s something that’s been pretty much the same since I was little.”
The fair continues today, starting at 3 p.m. The Little Miss Fairest of the Fair contest will be held on the Museum Stage at 6 p.m. and on the Main Stage, The Swon Brothers, from the TV show “The Voice,” will open for Dustin Lynch at 7 p.m. Lynch is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the fair’s website at www.appalachianfair.com.