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Towne Salute: Denise White

Sep 03, 2018 12:00AM ● By Brian Saucedo

By Caley Breese

When Denise White’s kids were young, she took them to the Anne Arundel County Fair to make a scarecrow, only to discover that the scarecrow contest wasn’t offered that year. Upset and not knowing what to tell her children, she decided to ask some questions to figure out why the contest had been canceled. The next thing she knew, White was running the scarecrow contest for the fair.  

“If you say something, you better be prepared to pick it up,” she says with a laugh. 

White, a Glenn Dale native, lives part-time in both Gambrills and Port Charlotte, Florida. After a 36-year career at NASA, where she worked in IT managing the phone system, White retired a few years ago and has focused much of her attention on the Anne Arundel County Fair, where she has been volunteering for more than 10 years. 

“They needed somebody that would do the entertainment,” she explains. “That’s anything from clowns and jugglers to those that do the wood-working demonstrations to the bands and duos that play—anyone that does any kind of entertainment.” 

When she became the entertainment coordinator for the Anne Arundel County Fair, White admits that she wasn’t quite sure what to do or where to get started; but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. “We were all the same way; none of us knew anything, but you just jump in and do it,” White says. “It’s really nice to see people come out and enjoy it because we’ve worked so hard all year.” 

The Anne Arundel County Fair was established in 1952 and has taken place at the County Fairgrounds in Crownsville since 1984. Its mission is to showcase the agriculture, arts, and talents of the county residents.

“Everyone seems to have a misunderstanding that the fair is county-owned, and it is not,” White says.  “It’s a nonprofit organization. No one is paid; we are all volunteers that just give our time the best we can.”

Although the fair takes place in September, the work truly happens all year long. White says every year she vows not to begin working on fair entertainment until January, but she has a hard time following through with that goal.

“If you don’t book some of those people early, they’re going somewhere else, so I really do it all year long,” she says.

In addition to volunteering as the entertainment coordinator, White served as secretary for the board for three years, and just recently resigned from that position to concentrate on her current post. Her duties as secretary included collecting mail, restocking office supplies, cleaning the office, and other administrative work. 

“I just have always found myself absorbed by the fair,” White says. “The more you’re there, it becomes kind of addicting. There’s always more to do.” 

White’s goal is to plan events and vendors that are all-inclusive and target various age groups. She and her husband also made a big push to sell wine and beer at the fair, which has worked out well for the past three years and has attracted an older crowd—something she appreciates.  

“We have adult events too, and I’m starting to see a different group come out since we have the beer and wine,” she says. “I always felt like we were missing the 30- and 40-year-old group, and now I’m seeing them. It just seemed like we didn’t have those families. Even though there are things there for the kids, the beer and wine let mom and dad relax a little while the kids are busy, so it seems like we’re now getting more families.”

This year, the Anne Arundel County Fair is Wednesday, September 12th through Sunday, September 16th at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville. 

For more information on the Anne Arundel County Fair, visit aacountyfair.org