Concerts, bull riding, horse racing, arm wrestling, Ravens alumni, crab cakes and carnival rides are just days away, as the MY Maryland State Fair starts off with a bang (as in fireworks) on Aug. 28.
But for the fair's general manager, Andy Cashman, it's the agriculture that he loves the most.
"I grew up here as a little boy," he said. "As a kid, I got to show here, and my kids got to show here."
While many people flock to the concerts and the horse racing, he looks around at the animal birthing center and the horse and pony festivals and recognizes the agriculture as setting a state fair apart from other festivals.
The 11-day event is in the usual place – the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, a massive space with a racetrack, where the fair holds thoroughbred horse racing seven days of the festival.
"It's one of the oldest continuing racetracks in the United States," Cashman said.
Post time is 1 p.m. Aug. 28-30, Sept. 4-7 with about 10 races each day, and admission to the race is included in the fair ticket: $8 for adults; $6 for 62-year-olds and older; $3 for children 6-11; and free for 5 and younger.
Inside that racetrack for two days of the fair will be a horse festival. Polo, jousting, bluegrass, wine and beer, food trucks and a tethered hot air balloon will fill the 16-acre infield Sept. 1 and 2, non-racing days. In addition, carriage rides will be offered, led by none other than Clydesdale horses.
The infield is also the site of the fair's concerts: R5 and Bea Miller at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4; Fifth Harmony at 8 p.m. Sept. 5; and the Latino Music Festival on Sept. 6 with Bachata Plus (6:30 p.m.), 503 Nation (7:20 p.m.), Alex Sensation (8:10 p.m.) and Baby Rasta & Gringo (9 p.m.)
On another stage in the fairgrounds, local bands will play throughout the fair.
Besides fair food, agricultural exhibits and shows and carnival rides, here are some of the other highlights:
Fireworks: 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28.
Ravens week: Noon-8 p.m. Sept. 2-4. A Ravens village will welcome appearances by the Ravens cheerleaders and alumni, Super Bowl trophies on display and a pep rally.
Bull riding competition and cowgirl barrel racing competition: 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Twenty-five professional International Bull Rider Association riders will compete, and cowgirls will race through a timed barrel course.
Negro Baseball League exhibit: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 4-7. This includes videos, life-size photos, and former players sharing oral histories.
Mule races: 5 p.m. Aug. 30.
Pony races with young jockeys: 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28 and 5 p.m. Aug. 29.
Sausage eating contest: noon Aug. 29 and 3 p.m. Sept. 6.
A children's tea party: 1 and 3 p.m. Aug. 31-Sept. 4. This is a tradition that dates back to President Lincoln in 1864 at the Maryland State Fair for U.S. Soldier Relief.
Square dancing by the Mason-Dixon Square Dancing Federation: 7-9 p.m. Aug. 29.
Arm Wrestling USA/Maryland Classic: noon-4:30 p.m. Sept. 5. Men and women will compete in an amateur competition.
Birthing center: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. This is a viewing area to watch the births of calves and piglets under the supervision of veterinarians and students.