Volunteers and vendors were hard at work early this week preparing for the opening of the 12th annual Carbon County Fair, which opens Wednesday and will run through Sunday, Aug. 14 from 3-11 p.m. each day.

The fair offers families an alternative to a costly vacation. During the five days, visitors will find plenty of food, entertainment and rides. The fair will be open rain or shine.

The opening ceremony and fair queen crowning will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The roar of motorcycles will be heard across the fairgrounds as the program kicks off with an appearance by Rolling Thunder.

Panther Valley ROTC, under the direction of Sgt. Joseph Jordan, and Carbon County veterans will perform the flag-raising. Martha Moyer of Jim Thorpe will sing patriotic songs during the ceremony and attorney Greg Mousseau will provide the invocation and benediction.

The first 100 attendees to arrive under the main stage tent will receive a free gift. Distribution starts at 3:30 p.m. and the gifts will b given out while supply lasts.

U.S. Rep Lou Barletta, Sen. David Argall, state Rep. Doyle Heffley, Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein, Charles Getz and William O'Gurek, and Lower Towamensing Township supervisors will speak.

In addition, Lions District 14-U District Governor Scott Dudley and Second Vice District Governor Angela Mimms will address the crowd.

Diamond level sponsors and volunteers of the year will be recognized.

A special memorial recognition will be made in memory of deceased board member Leon "Bupp" Mertz.

The program will end with a five-year celebration of the fair queen program.

There is plenty of free parking. Children 10 and under can enter the fair at no charge.

Daily ride specials are offered every day.

Musical entertainment is included in the admission price. There is covered seating available at the main stage, so visitors can bring their lawn chairs.

Scheduled entertainment for Wednesday is two performances at 7 and 9 p.m. featuring country singer Nicole Donatone.

A fireworks display will light up the sky at 10:15 p.m.

Thursday is Children's Day. Each child, 12 years and younger, will receive a chance to win a bicycle; with the drawing at 8 p.m.

Also Thursday, Penn Star, an air medical transport program operated by St. Luke's Medical Center, plans to land its helicopter from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot.

The helicopter provides medical transport services, which saves time while providing a high level of care for patients with serious traumatic injuries.

Anyone who attends will be able to meet with the staff and receive a tour of the helicopter.

Scheduled entertainment for Thursday, at 5, 7, and 9 p.m., features performances by Remember When.

On Friday at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. are performances by "The Cramer Brothers." At 8 p.m. there will be a performance by Brooke Unger, who sings a variety of country music.

On Saturday at 5:30 p. m. will be Penn's Peak Radio DJ "The Doctor," and two performances will be offered by Ryan Pelton, Elvis impersonator, at 7 and 9 p.m.

Penn Star again plans to land its helicopter from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot.

Sunday features lots of entertainment. At 4:30 p.m. the Tracy Lee Band will be on stage, and there will be two performances, at 7 and 9 p.m., with Pelton and The Difference Band.

In addition to the fireworks spectacular on Wednesday, special attractions in the arena include a demolition derby at 7 p.m. Thursday; an Antique Field Stock Tractor Pull at 6 p.m. on Friday; a demolition derby at 6 p.m. on Saturday; and a horse show at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and at 4 p.m. Lehigh Valley Wrestling with the Flyin Hawaiian and other professional wrestlers.

Featured daily on the midway will be Farmer for a Day, Dapper Dan, Buster the Clown, a hit-and-miss engine display and chain saw carvings, and Smokey Bear.

Also on Saturday and Sunday are the Phydeaux's Flying Flea Circus and Wahoo Medicine Show and Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia.

Agricultural exhibit information is as follows: Tuesday, Aug. 9, still exhibits arrive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; rabbit and cavies arrive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 4-H livestock entries arrive 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and rabbits and cavies are judged at 6:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, there will be judging at 9 a.m. open dairy goat and 4-H market goat and 4-H and open market breeding goat; and at 1 p.m., 4-H and open breeding sheep and 4-H market lamb.

Thursday will be judging at 9 a.m. for 4-H breeding and 4-H market swine; and 1 p.m. for 4-H and open breeding beef, 4-H market steer, and 4-H dairy beef.

Friday will be judging at 9 a.m. for 4-H and open poultry and 2 p.m. for 4-H and open dairy cattle.

Saturday is 4-H livestock buyer's luncheon at 11 a.m. and 4-H livestock sale at 1 p.m.

The fairgrounds are located three miles east of the borough of Palmerton on Little Gap Road.

For additional information call the fair office at (610) 826-1862 or visit www.carboncountyfair.com.