AUGUST 18-25

Was a time when the sounds and smells of huge hogs and fatted calves were not at all unusual in bucolic Gaithersburg. That was long before Lakeforest Mall and the northern sprawl of Rte. 355 precluded rural modifiers like “bucolic” from attaching themselves to the suburb. As county officials debate Silver Spring’s “megamall,” the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair seems more and more an anachronism. But getting sick on cotton-candy and Tilt-a-Whirl rides remains an enduring thrill—not to mention ax throwing, pig racing, and butter sculpting—so let’s hope this quaint tradition survives into the millennium. Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Perry Parkway off Rte. 355, Gaithersburg. $3-5. (301) 963-3247. (Dave Nuttycombe)