Carter County Free Fair returns to Hardy Murphy Coliseum for 2021

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
A donkey pops his head out of the pen to say hello at the Carter County Free Fair.

The Carter County Free Fair is back at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum this week for its 79th year. While the annual event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, it has returned for 2021 with all of the familiar sights, sounds, tastes and attractions.

The fair kicked off Wednesday morning with ribbons being awarded to the exhibitions, and there are hundreds of entries including produce, arts and crafts and animals. The exhibitions along with the petting zoo will be on display daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Saturday.

The Pride of Texas Carnival will be set up through Saturday evening.

Each day of the fair will also offer a variety of other attractions and educational opportunities. On Thursday a mobile dairy classroom will be inside the coliseum from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide information about dairy cows and give a live demonstration of the automated milking process. On Friday guests will be treated to a bug petting zoo courtesy of Insect Adventure from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Fair manager Angie Green said one new event offered this year is a mullet competition beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday.

A group of goats take a nap.

"I like to look at other county fairs to see what they are doing and find new ideas, and saw that a fair in Iowa held a mullet contest," she said. "I'm also a hair stylist and mullets are definitely back in. I'm doing almost as many of them now as I was doing back in the late 80s and early 90s. So I thought this would be a fun thing for us, and I've had lots of phone calls and messages from people interested in entering."

Finally it would not be the Carter County Free Fair without the carnival, and the Pride of Texas Carnival is returning with dozens of rides and games. The carnival will be open Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to midnight. 

The Carter County Free Fair will be at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum through Saturday. For a complete list of events visit

A table full of prize-winning fruits, vegetables and eggs is on display in the exhibition hall inside Hardy Murphy Coliseum.