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Attractions, greasy eats still abound
From a woodcarver with a chain saw to favorite foods and fun, the State Fair is alive in Caroline

 Ashley Davis, 8, cradles an Eastern king snake at the Virginia State Fair.
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Date published: 10/2/2012

By Rob Hedelt

TAKING A deep breath, Ben Risney pulled the rope on his long-bladed Stihl chain saw and began slicing into the immense pine log before him.

For nigh on 20 minutes, the "extreme speed art" carver used increasingly shorter chain saws to peel away more than half of the huge log to free the image of an owl hiding inside.

At times, the air was thick with sawdust and the smell of turpentine, some of the piney particles reaching beyond a protective fence to land on the laps of onlookers during the show, presented several times a day at the State Fair of Virginia near Doswell.

"It's amazing that he can see the shape he wants to make in that big piece of pine," said Joe Kozlowski, brushing sawdust from his jeans as he walked closer to inspect the 3-foot barn owl, complete with etched feathers.

The Bracey resident joined a somewhat light crowd at the fair on Monday to do what folks have been doing at Virginia's state fair for decades.

Nine-year-old Brayden Harris of Varina had no trouble defining what he wanted to accomplish at the fair, now operated by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation in a partnership with Universal Fairs LLC of Cordova, Tenn.

"I want to do the ride with cars that go round and round and round until you get a headache," said the youngster from behind the wheel of a tractor at a display booth.

He added "Don't forget the food--a candy apple, a turkey leg, cotton candy, sweet tea, ice cream and pizza."

All hopefully consumed well apart from that ride that goes round and round.

His mother, Shirlene Harris, noted that her son and others from Richmond Christian School were also using the day at the Fair to help complete a fourth-grade unit on Virginia.

"But then come fun and the rides," she said.

On Monday, I made the rounds of this new incarnation of the State Fair in Caroline County.

Things looked perhaps a bit sparser than in other years, with open spots here and there on the midways and activity areas.


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