When Harrison Furlow, 18, went to the Loudoun County Fair for the first time six years ago, it would ignite a passion for agriculture that changed his life.
“It was a really important event in my life,” Furlow said. “People consistently enjoy themselves there, just getting a glimpse of our county’s agricultural history and people are still actively engaged.”
Furlow’s family had just moved from Arlington to Round Hill and went to the fair to learn more about Loudoun’s agricultural history. When he saw the goats, he fell in love. The following year, Furlow told his parents he was quitting Boy Scouts and pitched them his goat raising project. He raised a goat to show at the fair, and since then has also built up beef cattle and swine operations in addition to the goats.
In addition to raising and showing his own animals, Furlow has also become a leader with the fair’s youth committee as well as an active member of Loudoun 4-H. A Woodgrove High School graduate, Furlow plans to study agriculture at Iowa State University — a field he finds fulfilling and increasingly important as the human population grows. He advocates for more people joining the agricultural industry to be part of the solution in finding ways to grow more food on less arable land.
“The fair not only offered me a venue to exhibit my animals and sell my animals, but to become very involved and educated and a more responsible member of society,” Furlow said.
Loudoun residents will have the opportunity to see some of Furlow’s animals as well as hundreds more at the 82nd Loudoun County Fair July 24 to 29.
Loudoun 4-H members, the majority of which are ages 9 to 19, will be showing rabbits, pasture poultry, sheep and goats, pigs and cattle throughout the fair. The animals are judged against each other and industry standards. The top prize winners are then given priority for the July 28 auction.
“We really want to stress how well taken care of these animals are and that animal wellness is our priority,” Furlow said.
The fair originally started as an agriculture show, said Arlée Harris, fair superintendent. As the county becomes more developed, especially on the eastern side, it is increasingly easy to forget how important agriculture is to Loudoun. The fair serves as an educational experience for all county residents, Harris said.
“This is really important in educating and promoting agricultural engagement in the public,” Furlow said. “I think it’s also important for people to realize you don’t have to necessarily orient yourself in math and science toward traditional STEM. Agriculture is very engaging in terms of a wide range of skills needed and lots of scientific and mathematical basis, so it doesn’t all end in engineering or medicine or biology. There are lots of prosperous careers in agriculture.”
In addition to the animal showings, this year’s fair will include more daytime activities, Harris said. Guests will be able to see heritage activities like blacksmith and woolspinner demonstrations, as well as petting zoos, a carnival, food contests and horse shows. Evening entertainment includes magic shows, rodeos, and for the first time ever, a monster truck show.
The ticket price includes all entertainment apart from the carnival, and the fair will also have several food vendors. The fair is run completely by volunteers and all proceeds go back into the fair grounds and providing a space for the Loudoun 4-H club. A schedule of activities is available on the fair’s website.