FREEHOLD, NJ --  The smell of kettle corn, the lights of the rides, and shrieks of delight from the crowd, there is nothing that represents summer more than the Monmouth County Fair. This family fun event, held at East Freehold Showgrounds, Kozloski Road, Freehold, will be celebrating its 36th year of putting smiles on people’s faces and making family memories for generations.

Organized and presented by the Monmouth County Park System in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H, the Fair maintains the agricultural nature of a traditional county fair with its Home and Garden Competition, petting farm, and 4-H animal shows and exhibits.

At the heart of the Fair, the Home & Garden Tent is the place to admire cookies and vegetables, flowers and fruit, cakes and crocheting, condiments and photography - a cornucopia of food, crafts, and art that Monmouth County residents have grown, carved, sewn, or painted.  The tradition of the Senior Center and Adult Day Program category in the Home & Garden Competitions gets stronger each year as this active group of participants contributes to this much-loved Fair feature.

Inside the Home & Garden tent, fairgoers will also find examples of beekeeping, knitting, quilting, and decoy carving demonstrations.  Visitors can also learn about gardening, computer enhanced photography, and wheel thrown pottery.

For many children, the Fair is their only opportunity to see farm animals up close.  And there are plenty to see!  From racing pigs to 4-H small animal judging, animals are an important part of the Fair. The 4-H Association brings well-cared for rabbits, sheep, heifers and other animals for visitors to admire.

The County’s agricultural heritage comes alive in the Historic Longstreet Farm and Historic Walnford tent. Each day, staff and volunteers of the Park System's 1890s living history farm at Holmdel Park and the 18th century mill village at Crosswicks Creek Park hold demonstrations showing daily activities of turn-of-the-century farm life in Monmouth County.

While rooted in tradition, the Monmouth County Fair also has one foot firmly planted the 21st century.  Be sure to check out its live entertainment (including Jodi Joseph on Saturday, July 24), the NASCAR Show Cars on display for MotorSports Night on Wednesday and Firefighters Competition.  And, don’t forget the midway’s rides and games!  (Rides are available, weather permitting.) This year’s Fair offers three blocks of time where fairgoers may purchase ride wristbands for $18 per person: Wednesday, July 21 from 5pm to 10pm; Thursday, July 22 from 5pm to 10pm; and Sunday, July 25 from 11am to 5pm.

New for 2010 is the Food and Fund Drive! On Saturday, July 24, the Monmouth County Park System and Monmouth County 4-H Association asks fairgoers to help local families in need by contributing to this drive that benefits the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Boxed and canned non-perishable food items and monetary donations will be collected at the Fair Front Gate. The goal is to collect 50,000 lbs of food in honor of the Park System’s 50th Anniversary! Please no glass items.

The Fair runs Wednesday-Sunday, July 21-25.  The Fair gate is open 5 pm to 11 pm on Wednesday, July 21, Thursday, July 22, and Friday, July 23; 11 am to 11 pm on Saturday, July 24; and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday, July 25 at East Freehold Showgrounds, Kozloski Road, Freehold Township.  Admission is $7 per person; children 12 and under enter free.  For more information on the Monmouth County Fair, visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com, or call (732) 842-4000.

The Monmouth County Fair is organized and presented by the Monmouth County Park System in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H Association.  The Monmouth County Park System is celebrating its golden anniversary of keeping the county green and livable, since the Board of Chosen Freeholders created the first county park in 1960. Today, the Park System has grown to over 30 sites totaling more than 14,500 acres and offers approximately 4,000 recreation programs and activities, making it the perfect place to come outside and play.