Rutland, VT — The 176th Vermont State Fair opened with a bang, featuring an “I Love 90s Show” headlined by Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice.

Organizers say they are hoping to build on the more than 0,000 people that attended last year’s fair. “The crowds are filling quickly, the stands are filling quickly,” said Fair Association President Robert Cogden. “It’s really exciting, we have a lot of attractions to offer this year.”

This year’s fair will also feature two attractions that have been on Cogden’s mind for years: an outdoor butterfly exhibit and a blacksmith shop. Cogden says volunteers and staff members have doubled since last year when they were severely understaffed but there still have been challenges.

“Entertainment seemed to be a challenge this year, just for the fact that so many dates are looking to get re-booked right now from 2020, making artists somewhat hard to track down,” he said.

Ashley Chica, who grew up coming to the fair, said she is grateful to give her kids the experience she had. “Honestly, I never thought I’d bring my kids here,” she said. “I’ve been trying to come to the fair for years but COVID and having kids have kind of just held me back.”

The fair features exhibits from across the state, including shows from kids enrolled in the 4-H program, a network of youth-based organizations under the University of Vermont umbrella that aim to educate and enhance leadership and life skills.

Olivia Thompson was enrolled in the Tuff Riders 4-H program this summer. She is looking forward to her equestrian show later in the week, and she said the fair is a great way for people like her to come together and connect.

“They have a lot of good trainers come down to work with you twice a day for two days,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to help each other out and you get to work as a team.”

The fair runs through August 20th and features other attractions including a drive-in movie theater on Wednesday.