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State Fair events garner over $137,000 for nonprofits that support youth


DOSWELL—Despite a wet start to the State Fair of Virginia thanks to Tropical Storm Ophelia, support for the fair’s philanthropic efforts could not be dampened.

The annual Sale of Champions and Black Tie & Boots events and the Ben Risney chainsaw carvings auction collectively raised over $136,000 for the State Fair of Virginia Scholarship Program.

The inaugural SFVA Crafters for Children online auction of donated handcrafted items raised $1,040 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the fair’s scholarship program.

Additionally, on Sept. 26 and 27, fairgoers received a discounted admission by donating 1,418 pounds of canned food, 215 pounds of school supply items and 59 new pairs of winter gloves. The items were donated to Caroline County food banks and schools.

“In the fair industry, success is often measured by attendance, but I like to measure our success based on our service to the community and our customers,” noted Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “There is great joy in providing opportunities for youth to excel and compete on the ‘big stage’ known as the State Fair of Virginia.

“We also were very pleased to partner with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and are hoping the crafters’ auction becomes a cherished annual tradition like our other fundraising events.”

Since 2013, the State Fair of Virginia Scholarship Program has awarded over $732,000 via more than 2,000 individual scholarships. Winners may use their scholarship earnings to attend any accredited post-secondary educational institution.

Youth earn scholarship money either through livestock, 4-H and FFA, SkillsUSA, equine, and culinary and fine arts competitions. In 2022, the scholarship program rewarded youth for their hard work and achievement in 44 sanctioned State Fair competition areas.

The Sale of Champions was established in 2015 and is held annually on the second Saturday of the fair. During the fundraising event, youth livestock competitors’ market animal champions are “auctioned off” for individuals and businesses to support the youth scholarships.

This year’s annual Black Tie & Boots gala was held on the first night of the fair and included a red carpet, a silent auction, a local band and Virginia food and beverages.

Another fan-favorite is the chainsaw carvings auction. One hundred percent of the money that bidders pay for original, hand-carved log creations is donated to the scholarship program. Artist Ben Risney uses a chainsaw to craft sculptures of woodland creatures, farm animals, owls and more.

The SFVA Crafters for Children is a new partnership between the State Fair of Virginia and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Crafters for Children invited creative arts competitors and demonstrators to donate handcrafted items for an online auction that opened during the fair and ran through Oct. 8.

“We’re excited about our partnership with the State Fair of Virginia, and the funds raised will help care for kids locally and throughout Virginia,” said Lauren Moore, CEO and president of the Children’s Hospital.

The 2024 State Fair of Virginia will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 6. Information is available at

The State Fair is held each fall at its permanent home at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and attracts over 225,000 fairgoers. The event celebrates the best of Virginia’s past, present and future through scholarship initiatives, creative programming and a focus on the commonwealth’s agriculture and natural resources industries.

Contact Marlene Jolliffe, State Fair executive director, at 804-994-2802 or Pam Wiley, vice president of communications, at 804-291-6315.

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