DUDLEY — The Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair is going to need some more room — not for new attractions, but rather to display its continually growing collection of awards.

The fair, which celebrated its 71st year in 2018, has won five awards from the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs and six from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.

“I think we have been privileged that we do get recognized across the state and internationally with some of the exhibits we have and some of the entries,” fair Manager Eddie Pitzer said. “I think it still goes back to the support that we get from the community, from our sponsors, from all of the people who participate in the fair, and that’s what makes it a success.

“In a lot of ways Wayne County is recognized as what a true agricultural county fair is. I know a lot of our emphasis ... we know that we need to keep agricultural as part of the fair. We need to keep the youth involved in it.”

The fair has great partners with the Cooperative Extension Service and Wayne County Public Schools, Pitzer said.

A fair is a balance between agriculture, youth, competitive exhibits, entertainment, food and a good carnival, and is a place where memories are made, Pitzer said.

Winning the awards on a consistent basis feels good, but it all goes back to the community support, Pitzer said.

The fair won the Got to Be NC Award, Youth Award, Agriculture Award, Media Award and the Image Award for best fair in North Carolina for fairs with more than 40,000 attendance.

The awards were presented during the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs’ annual convention held Jan. 3 to 5 at the Cary Embassy Suites.

The prestigious Image Award is given annually to fairs that represent what a state agricultural fair should be. It is the 19th time the fair has won the Image Award since the awards program started in 1977.

Several years ago the rules were changed so that a fair could not win the award in back-to-back years.

The Agriculture Award is given to the fair that best showcases agriculture and the agriculture heritage of the area served.

The Youth Award is presented to the fair that best showcases youth and youth activities in the area served.

The fair probably has won those two awards more than any other fair in the state, Pitzer said.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Got to Be NC Award given in recognition of the fair that best fosters a deeper understanding of North Carolina agriculture and its relevance to local citizens.

The Media Award is given annually to fairs that have the best overall advertising and public relations campaigns.

The International Association of Fairs and Expositions awards include first place for Ag Education, the 4-H/FFA category for the 4-H Hay Bale Exhibit; Competitive Exhibit, Create it on the Spot Contest Spuddy Buddy (with sweet potatoes); and Communications, website.

The Communications Award for the fair’s new website, www.waynefair.com is bittersweet.

The site was remastered by Brent Hood, who was also the fair’s official photographer. Hood died in December following a period of declining health.

Hood knew that the website had won the award, Pitzer said.

The fair also received three third-place awards for Innovation in Sponsorship (First Time Sponsorship); Competitive Exhibits New Display Method/Prop for container plants trellis unit; and Competitive Exhibits General Display Photo Series on local foods/tractor exhibit.

The fair is a year-round process, and entertainment already has been lined up for this year, Pitzer said. 

The fair, owned and operated by the Wayne County Livestock Development Association, has a tremendous impact on the area, Association President Mark Hood said.

“Working together is the key,” Hood said.”Without the community support, I will be honest with you, it would not go the way it is going now.”

One thing that is helping the fair flourish is to have a manager in Pitzer who has a vision, Hood said.

Pitzer also has an office manager in Edythe Blanton who looks after the fair catalog — the No. 1 in the world, he said. Sandra Head, events coordinator, also is a valuable asset, he said.

The fair is also fortunate to have a maintenance crew that is second to none that keeps the fairgrounds in first-class shape, Hood said.

This year’s fair will be held Sept. 26 through Oct. 5.