97th annual State Fair of West Virginia kicks off Thursday with new changes

LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – An event that has been taking place for 97 years, the State Fair of West Virginia has once again made its return to the grounds in Lewisburg.

“Mountain Grown Fun” being this year’s theme, it couldn’t be more true. As a beloved tradition, the state fair seems to never fail in pulling people back to their Appalachian roots.

“We’re so excited, the gates are open, people are coming, and the sun is out now. It’s such a great tradition here in the Greenbrier Valley to have the state fair, we are in our 97th year, it’s a longstanding tradition and it keeps getting better every year,” CEO of the West Virginia State Fair, Kelly Collins says.

Sold-out concerts, a new food guide, as well as the much-anticipated livestock shows and carnival rides, greeted the fair this year.

But, due to the recent safety threats taking place across the country, they didn’t want to take any chances, and security was their prime focus. Open-gate system metal detectors also greeted the crowds at every entrance to help ensure that safety.

“With everything going on around the nation, it’s not a new thing, it’s just something that we want to be more aware of, and who has the weapons,” says District Commander of the West Virginia State Police, Sgt. Andy Evans.

Being the first year for the metal detectors, everyone was a bit unsure of how the process was going to go, but they were pleasantly surprised. So far security had not seen any issues and people were moving fast through the detectors.

The West Virginia State Police also set up a new standard of safety precautions to ensure lost children were easily found.

“We have been putting it out to take a photo of your child before you go into the fair, that way it identifies what we need to be looking for, whether it be clothing, hairstyle, hair color, height, weight,” Evans says.

And yet another change this year, the pig barn will be closed to fairgoers to help mitigate the spread of Swine Flu.

The fair will be going on for 10 days, ending on August 22. For more information, visit the State Fair of West Virginia on their website or follow them on their social media pages.

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