As the county celebrates its 100th anniversary, Avery County holds on to the diminishing county-fair tradition

This is a special year for Avery County, the state’s 100th county. Largely rural, with about 18,000 residents, the county — the last to form in the state — is celebrating its 100th anniversary. This is the 19th Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair, held through Saturday, Sept. 10, in Newland.

“It’s a good way to show off to our kids our agriculture,” said Jerry Moody, fair manager, of the fair, one of only two remaining county-wide fairs still held in Western North Carolina. [Click here for a fair schedule.]

Here, photographer Mike Belleme captures a bit of the fair’s opening day —  the rides, the prize-winning vegetables and livestock, the beauty pageant — all revealing the mood and spirit of one of the region’s last county fairs, on the celebration of its home’s centennial.

Correction: An earlier version of this essay reported there are two remaining county-wide fairs in Western North Carolina. There are three, in Avery, Haywood and Macon counties.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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