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Fair returns after one-year absence
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Christopher Holland, 4, makes his first batch of cotton candy Thursday afternoon as he helps get equipment ready for Friday’s opening of the Warren County A&L Fair.
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Fair volunteers Tina Smock, left, and Diane Bond have been helping to beautify the fairgrounds in preparation for Friday’s opening day.

Jackie Holland made her first batch of cotton candy when she was 5.

Dana Holland recalls learning to make cotton candy when she was so short she had to stand on a milk crate.

So it was a rite of passage on Thursday for 4-year-old Christopher Holland, who made his first-ever batch of cotton candy at his family’s stand at the Warren County A&L Fair.

Holland’s will be set up and ready to go with its famous candy apples, sno cones, popcorn and more as the fair opens its gates and festivities begin Friday.

“I’ve been making cotton candy for 50 years – and it feels like 50 years,” said Jackie with a laugh. “I started when I was just 5. Our grandfather was here for the very first fair.”

Asked her thoughts on fair attendance, Dana said, “I think we’re going to be slammed. Warren County is ready to cut loose a little bit.”

At the chicken house, Ronnie Elrod had similar sentiments. He said chicken entries are expected to be down by about 100 or so, but he thinks folks will flock to the fairgrounds.

“I have my shot and I have my mask,” said Elrod. “The people of Warren County are ready to have a fair.”

Volunteers are needed for some of the booths, including the beloved 4-H Booth where hot funnel cakes are served. Tina Smock, one of the organizers, said there are currently not enough volunteers next Saturday, Sept. 18, for the booth to be open, but she is hopeful that will change in the coming days.

At food booth alley, at least three of the food booths are expected to be closed this year, which will increase demand at the ones which are open.

At the Midway booth, volunteer Beckee Bell said customers will no longer sit down and be waited on by a server. Instead, they will enter one side of the booth and place their order, sort of cafeteria style. They will pick up their order from the other end of the booth where they will pay.

“It takes 30 people to run this booth normally,” said Bell. “We do the deep frying upstairs and we make the burgers downstairs. With this new way, it will take 12 fewer people. It’s been a struggle to get volunteers in recent years so we figured now is a good time to try something new.”

Customers will still sit around the Midway booth as usual to eat after picking up their order.