La Plata, MD- Ahead of the Charles County Fair, fair board members are implementing several 21st century technological advancements to make the fair more accessible and safer for its attendees. 

When the fair comes to the Charles County Fairgrounds this September, fairgoers can expect cashless ticketing at carnival rides, a public ride program that will shuttle people from a parking lot to the fair entrance and tickets will be able to be purchased online ahead of the event and presented electronically.  

While these new improvements have long since been considered by the board, it was the pandemic that helped them to make the final decision to transition to electronic ticketing. 

“We’ve always been a cash business and I said, ‘we’ve got to get away from this’ and with COVID, it is taking us down a different road,” Fair President Glenn Belmore said. 

The topic was initially broached in the mid 2000s but the cost of making the change wasn’t manageable and it was pushed aside. It wasn’t until 2019 that the proposal was revisited, and with social distancing and hands-free precautions being taken post COVID, the future of the fair was sealed, according to Belmore. 

The Charles County Fair was established in the early to mid-1920s as a harvest festival focused on local agriculture. According to an article published in by The Times Crescent in 1978, early fairs brought local farmers and their families together to participate in livestock competitions, tobacco exhibitions and a rolling pin throwing contest, and has slowly evolved over time. 

This year the family-friendly fair will include performances from bands and dance groups, a butterfly garden and glass blowing demonstrations along with carnival rides, arts and crafts and livestock.

In addition to cashless ticketing, the fairgrounds will have upgraded WiFi to span across the entire fairground. There are also talks of adding a raceable golfcart attraction where fairgoers can pay to race golf carts on a controlled racetrack.

The Charles County Fair is also prioritizing safety through following CDC protocol by posting signage reminding those in attendance to take proper safety precautions, there will be hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the fairgrounds and they are advising fairgoers to wear masks.  

“We’re trying to do [everything we can] so that the public can feel safe attending [the fair],” Belmore said. 

The Charles County Fair makes its return to the Charles County Fairgrounds in La Plata, Md. on Thursday, Sept. 16 and will run through Sunday, Sept. 19.

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