Towne and Country Fair is getting ‘bigger, better’

By Lynn R. Parks

In anticipation of its 10th anniversary next year, organizers of the annual Towne and Country Fair are adding activities that invite participation by fairgoers of all ages. “We will have more hands-on things with fun and educational activities,” said Paula Gunson, executive director of the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce. The chamber, along with the Seaford Historical Society, sponsors the fair. “People will be able to get in and do things,” Gunson added. “I think that that always makes an event more interesting.” There will be a talent show, organized by Pat Murphy, who plans the talent show for Laurel’s Fourth of July celebration. There will also be a dunking booth featuring local politicians, Civil War-period children’s games, an outdoor cotillion led by Civil War “soldiers,” square dancing and line dancing lessons, a pie baking contest and a heaviest vegetable contest. The ninth annual Towne and Country Fair is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Ross Plantation. Last year’s fair, always held on Labor Day weekend, attracted 7,500 people. “We hope to have even more this year,” Gunson said. “We are growing and getting bigger and better.” The fair is designed to expose people to the history of the Seaford area, in particular to that of the Civil War era. The Ross Plantation, home to the 19th-century Ross Mansion, was owned by William Ross, who was governor of Delaware from 1851 to 1855. Ross was a slave holder — as a Confederate sympathizer in an official Yankee state, he fled to England for the duration of the Civil War — and slave quarters that several years ago were moved near the mansion from nearby woods will be open during the fair. Also open during the fair will be the plantation’s smokehouse and granary. The gift shop in the honeymoon cottage, a small house that Ross built for his son and bride which several years ago was moved to the grounds and renovated, will also be open. Tours of the mansion will be conducted by members of the historical society. Cost is $3 per person. As is traditional, members of the 2nd Maryland Infantry Co. G, CSA, will set up camp behind the mansion. The Civil War Confederate reenactors will move in Friday evening and will be there all weekend. This year, Union reenactors will also set up camp. Gunson anticipates that sometime during the day, a skirmish will break out, complete with musket and cannon fire. Demonstrations of loading and firing a cannon will also be held throughout the event. The cannons will be manned by members of the 1st North Carolina Artillery. The fair will get under way at 8 a.m. with a prayer breakfast, sponsored by the Seaford Kiwanis Club and the Seaford Ministerium. Several area ministers will speak and the breakfast will be catered by Jimmy’s Grille. Un-Reconstructed, a band from Alabama that specializes in Civil War-ear songs, will perform. For ticket information, contact St. John’s United Methodist Church, 629-9466. The fairgrounds will open at about 9:30 a.m. with a performance by the Seaford High School band. Members of Co. G will strike the colors. Crafters will be set up throughout the mansion’s grounds. There will also be exhibitions of quilting, broom-making, blacksmithing, chair caning, soap making and rope weaving. Food booths, including a pig roast sponsored by the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, will also be set up. New this year is a heaviest-fruit contest. Judges will weigh apples, watermelons, honeydews, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and award ribbons to growers of the heaviest in each category. The First State Tractor Club will have a display of antique tractors and farm equipment and there will be a pony grooming demonstration and pony rides. The Southern Delaware Street Rod Association will hold a car show and competition featuring classic autos. Ed Banning, Seaford, will provide antique carriage rides as well as rides in a hitch wagon. In the evening, there will be hay rides. Entertainment throughout the day will be provided by the Banjo Dusters, Country Grass and the Berlin Dance Studio Cloggers. The day will wind up with fireworks, sponsored by Discover Bank. Vendor space is still available. For details, call the chamber, 629-9690 or (800) 416-GSCC (4722).

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