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Posted August 8, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Vendors set up shop at trade show

Longtime staple of the Warren County Fair features local businesses, farmers, artisans

fairgoers peruse displays
Warren County fairgoers peruse displays at the trade show on Thursday. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Louise Ford at the Costco stand
Louise Ford at the Costco stand at the Warren County Fair. Dennis Grundman/Daily

By M.K. Luther -- mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- For more than 50 years, the Warren County Fair trade show has spotlighted local businesses, agriculture and arts and crafts.

This year, the trade show offers fairgoers more than the standard fare of vendor booths, homegrown vegetable exhibits and handcraft displays.

For the first time, regular vendor and trade show participant Costco donated a 32-inch Vizio plasma television as a door prize. Anyone who attends the trade show and visits at least 10 booths is eligible for today's drawing.

Costco marketing representative Louise Ford said the company has been actively involved with the trade show for decades and decided to give the 2009 edition an extra boost with the TV.

"Part of our code of ethics is that we support our community," Ford said.

Fair President Joye Wood and volunteer coordinator Wendy Weir said the trade show has been a long-standing staple of the fair, with businesses across the region setting up booths to reach out to residents.

With a small central group of volunteers coordinating the effort, Weir invites area vendors to set up shop and distribute information about their businesses, giving them an opportunity to reach the thousands of areas residents who come to the fair. Many returning vendors have even become as familiar to fair attendees as the main feature attractions, Weir said.

"There are some people who come to the trade show just to see the regulars," Weir said.

Weir and Wood estimate that at least 18,000 people passed through the gates of the Warren County Fair last year, and Wood said attendance numbers for this year are already up.

"We are thinking with the economy the way it is, people aren't vacationing as much and are coming out to the fair," Wood said.

Along with the vendor displays, the trade show offers a chance for the county to show off some of its best native, homespun talent. Any county resident can enter special exhibits in categories such as handcrafts, vegetables, flower, needlework and media arts, said home economics director Sharon Pickrell.

Although many of the entries come from school-age children, the good-natured rivalry inspired by the trade show still captures the attention of adults.

"For the kids, it is the excitement of seeing it -- for some of the adults, it is the competition," Pickrell said.

Trade show entries can win first, second and third prizes. The trade show is open from 4 to 10 p.m. today, the final day of the 2009 fair.

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