LUMBERTON — Gray skies and chilly weather did little to keep thousands of fair-goers away from getting a taste of the 67th annual Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair on Thursday.
According to Allen Faircloth, president of the fair, about 5,000 children and adults from Robeson, Hoke and Scotland counties got to enjoy themselves from 10 a.m. to noon during the fair’s annual Special Needs Children’s Day.
“We were just blessed,” Faircloth said. “It’s not particularly a pretty day, but it didn’t rain.”
Special Needs Children’s Day was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but had to be postponed when rain forced the fair’s closure.
Faircloth said the special-needs children were given free rides and treats.
“Pepsi gave them a drink and ice cream,” he said. “The vendors discounted their prices and in some cases, just gave it (food) away to them.”
Also on Thursday, fair-goers could receive a free ticket to the fair with the donation of at least five cans of food to the Robeson County Church and Community Center’s food pantry. The center will get the food into the hands of the needy for the upcoming holidays.
Twanna Hunt, of Lumberton, donated two bags of canned food.
“I like to help with the Church and Community Center,” Hunt said.
Faircloth said the food pantry received 3,500 pounds of food this year, which means about 700 people entered the fair for free.
Thursday night’s schedule of events included a Truck and Tractor Drive held by the Future Farmers of America and a Best Legs Contest held by Kayser Roth.
Jason Bullock, an agriculture teacher at St. Pauls High School, said six high schools in the county participated in the Truck and Tractor Drive.
“The real purpose of it is to teach them safety,” Bullock said. “Teach them skills that could help them get jobs.”
Dustin Polston, a senior from Fairmont High School, said it was his first time competing in the truck drive.
“I did all right … ,” Polston said. “Just making sure you follow the course, not hitting anything.”
Paul Warwick won first place for the solo truck drive category, Marley Walters came in second and Polston finished third. In the team truck drive category, Lumberton High School came in first, Fairmont High was second and Purnell Swett finished third.
In the team tractor driving category, Fairmont High School came in first, Purnell Swett was second and Lumberton High School came in third. In the solo tractor driving category, Stephen Hill won first place, John Floyd won second and Lavin Lowry won third.
Winners from the Best Legs Contest were Katherine Jackson for the 18- to 29-year-old category, Pamela McRae for 30- to 49-year-old category and Linda Byrd for 50 years and older. Matt Clark won best legs for the men category.
Faircloth said the contest raised $600 that will be donated to United Way.
The forecast for today is better, with temperatures in the mid-70s and little chance of raine.
Faircloth hopes to see a larger crowd as the fair comes to a close on Saturday.
“Weather forecast is beautiful and we are anticipating, over the next two days, about 35,000 more people,” he said.
A Lawn Mower Race will be held at 4 p.m. today followed by “The Big Stick Foxy 99’s” Big Night Out that will feature a live concert from 7 to 10 p.m. For a full schedule of events, visit www.robesoncountyfair.com.