New and returning blue ribbon favorites at this year’s State Fair

state fair of virginiaThis year’s State Fair of Virginia is chock-full of blue ribbon features—both new and returning.

In the interest of a fan-friendly concert series, the State Fair’s Main Stage will be located on asphalt beside the Farm Bureau Center. And super-fans will be able to purchase all-new blue ribbon seating for nightly concerts.

A $10 upgrade to the regular fair admission will provide premium seats closest to the stage for any one of the following concerts: Craig Campbell on Oct. 1; Dylan Scott, Oct. 2; Trent Harmon, Oct. 3; Natalie Grant, Oct. 4; Chris Lane, Oct. 5; Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys featuring the Earl White String Band, Oct. 6; and Scotty McCreery, Oct. 7. All shows begin at 7 p.m. and are free with a paid admission to the fair.

“Moving the main stage to the asphalt provides better seating options that are comfortable for sitting or standing,” noted Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. Concert attendees without blue ribbon seating may bring their own lawn chairs, rent a chair, or stand and dance the night away.

Another new feature this year is Virginia’s Finest Sundays. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 in the Blue Ribbon Tent in Harvest Landing, fairgoers can enjoy agriculture and specialty foods branded under the Virginia’s Finest program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Sauces, snacks, soups and more will be available.

Returning fan favorites include premium parking, Meadow Hall tours and the giant pumpkin and watermelon weigh-ins.

Premium parking on the paved lot behind the Farm Bureau Center is available for advance purchase. The parking passes can be purchased online for $15 and are valid only for the day of purchase. General parking is still free.

Meadow Hall tours will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays during the fair. For just $5, visitors can tour Meadow Hall, which sits on the site of Meadow Stable founder Christopher Chenery’s ancestral homeplace.

Guided tours at noon and 3 and 6 p.m. will offer an inside look at the exclusive Chenery collection of family memorabilia from the late Penny Chenery, as well as a gallery of famous Thoroughbreds raised on the farm, including Secretariat.

The giant pumpkin and watermelon weigh-ins will take place at noon on Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Blue Ribbon Tent. There will be plenty of seating for those who want to see if this year’s growers can break the state records.

Other new attractions include the Firefighter Combat Challenge on Sept. 28 and 29. In this competition, firefighters from communities across the state will hoist hoses, climb towers and carry mannequins to safety. Additionally, fairgoers can view Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean, a pirate show that takes place on a wire cable suspended 30 feet in the air over a huge pirate ship. Fairgoers also will have the opportunity to watch the Cowboy Circus with Danny Grant, which includes interactive circus tricks, juggling and comedy for the whole family.

The 2018 State Fair of Virginia will run from Sept. 28 through Oct. 7. Information is available at

The State Fair is held each fall at its permanent home at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. The fair’s mission is to increase agricultural and natural resource awareness and interest through educational programs, exhibitions and competitions in a fun, family-friendly setting.

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