Carnival rides light up the night sky at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. Credit: Montgomery County Agricultural Center

August’s warm weather, an abundance of carnival rides and the smell of kettle popcorn and roasted turkey legs wafting in the air can only mean one thing: the return of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.

The Montgomery County Agricultural Center’s 73rd annual fair opens Friday and will run through Aug. 20. Held at the fairgrounds at 501 Perry Parkway in Gaithersburg, the fair is an annual attraction that draws thousands to enjoy an array of carnival rides, entertainment, animal exhibitions and, of course, food. This year’s offerings range from a cheese bacon bomb to a cotton candy funnel cake.

The nine-day event will feature entertainment ranging from Johnny Rockett’s Motorcycle Circus, featuring a triple-flipping motorcycle, to 4-H Day, celebrated with a parade, animal exhibits, a coronation and a cake auction, plus musical performances and chainsaw carving by Joe Stebbing, a Thurmont artist who transforms 3-foot tall logs into works of art.

And then there’s the Show-Me Swine Racers, an ever-popular attraction showcasing pigs racing around a track.

This year’s fair hours are 3 p.m.-midnight Friday, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-midnight Aug. 19-20. The carnival hours are 3 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and noon-midnight Aug. 19-20.

Admission to the fair is $15 onsite and $12 online. Children ages 11 and under are free. A group rate of $9 per person for a group of 15 people or more is available. All ticket purchases are non-refundable.

Parking for the fair is $10 per car. There is free parking and shuttle bus service from stops at Lakeforest Mall, Lost Knife Road and Odenhal Ave. in Gaithersburg.

The carnival will feature more than 35 rides, with the debut of the Dragon Coaster ride. Tickets for individual rides can be purchased for $1.50 per ticket, $25 for 20 tickets and $60 for 52 tickets. Advanced one-day wristbands are $25 and regular priced one-day wristbands are $35.

For a full schedule and list of the carnival rides, discounts and specials; and height, tickets and wristband requirements, visit the fair’s website.

This year’s fair will offer more than 35 carnival rides , including the debut of the Dragon Coaster. Credit: Montgomery County Agricultural Center

Visitors will find a variety of food options from more than 30 vendors including AWK Roasted Nuts, Aunt Betty & Uncle Bubba’s, Butler’s Orchard, Chan Concessions. Churros Inc., Chic Enterprise, Chocolate Moonshine Co., Don Julio’s Kitchen, Lisa’s Lemonade & More, LR Foods Onion & Turkey Leg Stands, New Orleans Style Snow Ball, Outlaw Kettle Corn, Perkins Pizza, Phelps Concessions, Carroll Concessions, Funtastic Foods, Taqueria & Pupuseria El Paso and Mamma Lucia.

Funnel cakes are a popular fair treat. Credit: Montgomery County Agricultural Center

The fair will also present its fourth annual Fair Foodie Awards Friday at 6 p.m. Categories include Best Taste Savory Food and Most Creative Sweet Treat.

This year’s competing entries are:

Churros Inc.’s horchata

Churros Inc.’s loaded churros with cheese, bacon and jalapeno

Colossal Onion & Funnel Cakes’ cotton candy funnel cake

Funtastic Food’s smokehouse fries

Metro Concessions’ Iris Nachos

New Orleans Snowball’s Mardi Grass

Phelps Concessions’ cheese bacon bomb

Phelps Concession’s’ dragon fruit lemonade

Timmons Funnel Cake Stand’s birthday cake funnel cake

Here is a schedule of events

Friday

Johnny Rockett’s Motorcycle Circus (ticketed), 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the gate and $10 online.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, noon-8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

Lawnmower Racing, 7:30 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 1 and 4 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports , 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Music on Maple featuring Unity Reggae Band, 7-1o p.m.

Harmony Express, 2-7 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday

Touch-A-Truck, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 1 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 2-7 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Monday

Truck Drag Racing, 7:30 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Farmer’s Triangle.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday

RENEGRADE Monster Truck Tour (ticketed), 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 at the gate and $15 online.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the PEPCO an Exelon Company Community Stage.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Farmer’s Triangle.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Thursday

RENEGRADE Monster Truck Tour (ticketed), 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 at the gate and $15 online.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Farmer’s Triangle.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 19

Demolition Derby Night of Destruction (ticketed), 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 at the gate at $15 online.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 6-10 p.m.

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 20

Demolition Derby Night of Destruction (ticketed), 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18 at the gate at $15 online.

Brad Matchett – Agricadabra presents Healthy Eating of AG, 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Joe Stebbing – Chainsaw Carver, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Farmer’s Triangle.

Brad Matchett – Comedy Hypnotist, 9 p.m.

Josh & Lea Knotts – Extreme Illusions and Escapes, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fast Action Motorsports, 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Harmony Express, 2-7 p.m. on weekends.  

Mad Science, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Show-Me Swine Racers, noon, 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.