Last year the York County Fair closed its gates for the last time, ending an 85-year tradition for local residents.
The American Legion Post 34 sold the 15 acres of land that held the fair to Winthrop University. It's now a parking lot at on Cherry Road, adjacent to Winthrop's dormitories.
But even before that, the livestock building – my favorite part of the fair – was gone. In 2001, the aging building, officially known as the Cattle & Poultry Barn, was demolished and local 4-H clubs (including the largest meat goat club in the state) had nowhere to show their animals.
Enter Tony and Beverly Callahan of York, who donated the use of their farm, High Tension Ranch, for a local show. A group of livestock owners and 4-H parents stepped in to organize the event. Once again, kids were able to show their goats, cattle and sheep. Last year, the show outgrew the ranch and was moved to Doug Smith's Triple Creek Farm, on McConnells Highway just west of Rock Hill.
4-H Club members raise, train, groom and show their animals. The final show of the season is typically the state fair, which will be in October in Columbia.
County fairs represent a rural way of life, and it may be that York County residents have so lost touch with their heritage that the fair was fated to die even without the sale of the land. Yet agri-tourism is a fast-growing segment of the tourism industry, and people are realizing that children don't get enough exposure to nature.
With the growth of the Nation Ford Land Trust, the Carolina Thread Trail and greenways, there is hope for the future in York County.
An agri-tourism subcommittee created as a result of a York County tourism summit in February 2007 has proposed a new, year-round facility in York County for agriculture and equestrian events. The facility would be home to the York County Fair and bring back livestock shows.
The county is currently finalizing a contract with Crossroad Consulting of Florida to do a feasibility study on the facility.
The 4-H Fall Livestock Show is Friday and Saturday.
Here is the schedule:
Friday – Milk goat show, 6 p.m.; milking contest featuring elected officials and dignitaries, 7 p.m.
Saturday – Sheep show, 9 a.m.; horse show, 10 a.m.; beef show, 11 a.m.; dairy show, 1 p.m.
Triple Creek Farm is at 700 Triple Creek Drive on McConnells Highway in Rock Hill.
Admission is free and families are welcome.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, snacks and drinks will be sold.
For more information about the show or 4-H clubs, call the Clemson Extension office at 803-684-9919.