Who says you have to wait until fall to enjoy all the fun of an old-fashioned fair? That's certainly not the case in Caroline County, Virginia. On May 7 and 8, The Meadow Event Park near Doswell will be holding the second annual Virginia Farm Festival. The festival is a celebration of springtime in the country, with many of the State Fair of Virginia's favorite attractions.

You'll find all your favorite fair foods and vendors, along with live family entertainment sure to delight the crowd. That includes a unique magic show with an agricultural slant, called Ready, Set, Grow With Farmer Ed, and meet-and-greets with some of your favorite barnyard animals — goats, pigs, chicks, cows, ducks, and, yes, alpacas.

Kids can learn more about their favorite animals and about farming in general in the AGtivity Zone in the Meadow Pavilion. There, the Virginia Farm Bureau and other local agricultural organizations will be presenting games, lessons, grab-and-go crafts, and other activities that teach about where our food comes from. They can also challenge their siblings or friends to a race on a fleet of old-fashioned pedal tractors and climb to the top of Tire Mountain. The ponies of Whispering Pines will also be on hand for rides.

Meanwhile, adults can visit the Growing Garden to learn from local farmers about how to raise fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home and attend cooking demonstrations so you can hold your own "farm to table" dinner nights. And in honor of Mother's Day, on April 8, moms will be treated to mimosas and snacks at a Mom's Moment party that also features a raffle for special prizes. Of course, there will be plenty of food to purchase from local farms, restaurants, and vendors. As you eat, you can enjoy live old-time and bluegrass music from Kathy Davis and Bradley Bishop.

Whereas most fairs held in the fall traditionally commemorate a successful harvest, the Virginia Farm Festival showcases springtime planting. More than just a showcase for cute animals and vintage tractors, the festival will give attendees the opportunity to "explore the interconnectedness of agriculture and lifestyle through cooking demonstrations and family fitness classes."

In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the historic Meadow Hall mansion, which features galleries dedicated to legendary racehorse Secretariat. The Triple Crown winner was born at The Meadow in 1970.

Tickets to the Virginia Farm Festival are only $7, and attendees age 4 and under are free. To buy passes in advance, and for more information, visit statefairva.org.

And for more information about all that charming Caroline County, Virginia, has to offer, see co.caroline.va.us.

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