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The "free fair" in Ellenboro September 17-21 Tradition continues that began 91 years ago

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The Ferris Wheel, a crowd favorite.

When the Colfax Free Fair-Ellenboro School Carnival opens Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 5:30 p.m., there will be plenty of excitement for the young and the not-so-young people in the community and Rutherford County.

The East Rutherford High School band will provide music for the brief opening ceremony followed by the opening of rides, food vendors and exhibit hall.

The fair opens at 6 p.m. each day except on Saturday, Sept. 21 when the fair opens at 1 p.m.

Fair food of all description will be provided by dozens of local vendors located on the fairgrounds of the former Ellenboro School, Hollis Road in Ellenboro.

Cotton candy, old-fashioned popcorn, kettle popcorn, candied red apples will be sold from a number of vendor wagons.

Local food vendors sell the popular roasted corn, barbecue, homemade ice cream, fried pies, ham biscuits, liver mush and bologna biscuits, funnel cakes and other fried cakes.

Delicious fair hotdogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings will be available at the popular Ellenboro school concession stand. School staff and other volunteers will be on site to man the stand.

Just outside the concession stand will be picnic tables where fair-goers can enjoy their food and gather with old friends.

A crowd favorite, Bingo, is returning under the big tent near the school's concession stand. There will be plenty of good prizes for winners.

For students who attended Ellenboro School back in the day when agriculture teacher A.B. Bushong was there, the fair was a time to gather with friends, to show off farm vegetables, sewing and other craft work. He organized the fair on the school grounds first in 1928 and used the resources of students to keep the fairgrounds clean during the week.

People from the Ellenboro community and miles around would bring families to the fair. There was no admission fee to attend then and today, 91 years later, the fair remains admission free. Parking is also free.

School principal Bill Bass said it is rare these days to offer a fair without an admission cost.

"Free admission is a big deal today," Bass said.

Keeping with the tradition of Bushong, the exhibit hall this year carries the theme, "Agriculture-- A to Z."

Townspeople and county folks are invited to bring their canned goods, baked goods, sewing, and other craft work for judging next Monday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. Anyone wishing to enter wares and goods is encouraged.

Ribbons and monetary prizes will be presented to winners.

The exhibit hall will be open during the hours of the fair and everyone is encouraged to stop by and see the prize winning displays.

Long time Ellenboro resident Sarah Daves will admit it's been a few years since she walked around the fairgrounds, but the memories of going there for more than six decades remain fresh in her mind.

Daves began attending Ellenboro School in the seventh grade after her family moved to the area. She and would later graduate from Ellenboro High School.

"It was always so much fun coming back to see people you went to school with," she said.

She said that was one of the most popular times spent at the fair -- catching up with old friends.

It is not unusual for people to bring a chair or sit on a blanket under the shade of tree for hours just reminiscing with old friends.

Bass said people who grew up in Ellenboro, "know what it's was and what it's like."

"It's an authentic county fair-feel," Bass said. "There is something for everyone of all ages."

B&K Carnival Company is again providing rides on the fair's midway.

"They always brings us a good set-up of rides," Bass said.

Wrist band day will be on Saturday, Sept 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. The bands can be purchased for $18. During the special hours, those wearing wrist bands can ride all rides without any additional costs.

The exhibit hall will be open during regular fair hours and on Saturday the popular antique farm equipment display will be outside the exhibit hall.

"We have new farm equipment vendors this year," Bass added.

Free entertainment will be provided on Friday and Saturday nights featuring the sounds of gospel and bluegrass music.

The fair is the school's primary fundraiser, Bass reminds the public. Proceeds go to the school for various programs and equipment. Proceeds from the exhibit hall will go to bring the annual Fiddler's Convention in November. Proceeds from the convention will in turn go back into the school, said long time organizer Frances Bailey.

There are other partners helping with the fair including the Ellenboro Fire & Rescue Department, Rutherford County Schools, Traffic Control, the Town of Ellenboro and others.

"We want people to come out and enjoy the "authentic county fair feel," Bass added. "We want parents and grandparents to see the happy faces of children."

Come out and make new memories and remember the past memories.

Colfax Free Fair/Ellenboro School carnival: Theme: Agriculture -- A to Z • September 17-21 Opens at 6pm Tuesday-Friday, Saturday, 1pm until Monday, Sept. 16: 10am-7pm. Exhibit hall open for receiving all exhibits.

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