County fairs featuring local agriculture first came about in the U.S. in the 1800’s. Traditionally, farmers met at county fairs as an educational opportunity– to share their knowledge and learn how to raise better livestock and improve crop production.

Farmers tend to cattle in 1886 at Calvert’s first fair (photo: Calvert fair website)

As an important annual event, fairs gave farmers a chance to leave the farm for entertainment, to connect with other farmers and the community, and of course compete for a prized blue ribbon for the best jam, largest pumpkin, and more. They are still seen as a symbol of the growing season winding down to fall harvest, and a time when farmers gather to talk about that year’s crops, livestock, and other happenings on the farm. County fairs provide a chance for socializing, entertainment and relaxation.

Southern Maryland county fair schedules 

  • Anne Arundel September 16-20th, schedule (pdf)
  • Calvert September 30- October 4th, schedule
  • Charles September 17-20thschedule
  • Prince George’s September 10-13th, schedule
  • St. Mary’s September 24-27th, schedule (pdf)

The past few years I’ve made an effort to check out neighboring county fairs, and have enjoyed seeing the different traditions of each. From roasted peanuts to livestock shows, fairs today are still grounded by their roots in agriculture. I encourage you to check out the schedules and visit another county’s fair this year. You may be surprised! And stop in and say hi to the team at the SMADC booth while your there.

For additional history, check out the Maryland state fair interactive timeline and interesting history page here. A listing of all Maryland county fairs can be found here.