Fairs: A Celebration of Pennsylvania

8/3/2013 7:00 AM

What is it that makes each of Pennsylvania’s 109 fairs special?

It’s the community coming together to make something to be proud of. It’s the entertainment and food you can’t duplicate any other time of year. It’s the best of show, field, woodshop, oven, garden, paintbrush, needle and thread.

Nearly 60 Pennsylvania fairs open their gates in August, and each offers something different, whether it’s the tradition of the Centre County Grange Encampment (Aug. 22-29), the outstanding livestock shows of the Butler Farm Show (Aug. 5-10) or the great entertainment of the Allentown Fair (Aug. 27-Sept. 2).

Yet for everything that is unique with each fair, they all operate with the same purpose — showcasing the best that is made and grown in Pennsylvania and educating visitors about agriculture.

The livestock shows, farm products, baked and canned goods, arts and crafts competitions and displays, and the variety of old and new farm equipment provide limitless opportunities to showcase our state’s top industry in a fun and educational way.

And our farm youth are learning, too.

Through 4-H and FFA displays, contests and competitive exhibits, fairs engage, educate and encourage our future leaders as they train to step up and guide their communities.

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Fair Queen program, there are hundreds of young women advocating for our No. 1 industry and their community.

Throughout the summer, I see young people stand up to represent themselves, their families, schools, clubs and hometowns.

Many of you are behind these celebrations, whether you volunteer on the fair board, with the local 4-H and FFA, or exhibit your own animals, produce or handmade items.

As I travel to fairs across the state, I meet people who take a week off work and hit the pause button on everything else that is happening in their lives to move to the fairgrounds.They work from sunrise to sunset to make sure visitors enjoy their trip to the fair. Fair volunteers are keeping this great tradition alive, and I thank you.

For the fourth year, the department continues to recognize these individuals through the Outstanding Fair Ambassador program.

Fairs can nominate someone who has been an integral part their event — a current or past fair committee member, longtime exhibitor or volunteer, or a special department — who deserves to be recognized for their involvement.

Nomination forms are available at www.agriculture.state.pa.us by searching “fairs.”

Stop by a fair and see America at its best. Whatever you want to see — showtime in the livestock barns, a midway lit up like Times Square or performances by local and national entertainers —you can find it in 109 flavors across Pennsylvania.

Sample each fair, mix ’n’ match or take a heaping helping of your favorite. Support your friends, your family, your farmers. Support your fair.

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