The Stone County Fair organizers are preparing to offer a whole week of safe, family-friendly entertainment.

Starting Thursday, September 2, the event will kick off with the annual Fair Queen contest. The activities are scheduled throughout the weekend, with Friday and Saturday's livestock show events.

Stone County 4-H Agent Brad Jones, who organizes the event, said he expects to see high participation in judged exhibits.

"I do think our exhibiting entries are going to be up because we're getting a whole lot of social media hits," Jones said. "We've been doing a little bit of social media the last few years. So we're figuring that'll make a difference."

The judged entry categories range from canned goods to art to a wide variety of crafts. The previous year, a dozen homemade quilts and crocheted items received blue ribbons. If there is something an individual can create, there is likely a category for judging.

Jones said the increase in handmade exhibits might be due to the extra time residents have used to develop new hobbies in the past two years. But he also believes it is part of a more significant trend.

"Even before COVID, we've seen an uptick of people doing more at-home things from gardening, canning, arts, and crafts," he said.

As of last Friday, the fair was scheduled with a midway and rides.

The rides will be fewer than expected, and attractions will be spread out over the fairground to discourage gathering in close quarters.

He is unsure how many will attend the midway at this time.

Jones said the company providing rides throughout the week would offer handwashing stations and encourage masks and other precautions.

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