Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (2024)

Kathryn Yingling and sons Jackson, 3, and Oliver, 20 months, all of Bedford, ride the kids coaster at the Bedford County Fair in 2023. Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb
Sawyer Dermer, 2, tries to duck away from a friendly goat at the petting zoo during the 2023 Bedford County Fair. Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb
Ryan Hite, 10, of Carrolltown leads Gary, his grand champion veal back to his stall after judging at the 2022 American Legion County Fair in Ebensburg. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Adrianna Wilkinson, 17, of Gallitzin grooms her 2023 American Legion County Fair Grand Champion 4-H Dairy Beef “Bandit” in the cattle barn. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Families and friends crowded around the midway attractions at the 2023 Bedford County Fair.Tossing ping pong balls in the hopes of winning a gold fish were (from left) Mike Truax, his sister, Nicole Spade, his wife, Erica Truax, and their children Emmy, 3, and Ellie, 8.Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb

Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (6)

Kathryn Yingling and sons Jackson, 3, and Oliver, 20 months, all of Bedford, ride the kids coaster at the Bedford County Fair in 2023. Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb

For nine days starting Friday, July 12, the 163rd Clearfield County Fair will feature a bigger carnival and some attractions that haven’t been at the fair in years.

“We have partnered up with Powers Great American Midways as our carnival, providing the fair with one of the most highly respected carnival companies in the industry,” said Greg Hallstrom, fair manager.

Because fair organizers went with a new carnival, they had to pick different dates to accommodate the changes.

The fair — usually held in August — will run July 12-20, Hallstrom said, as “those were the dates they (the midway supplier) had available.”

The longer fair and the date change will allow organizers to bring back “things we had in the past,” he said.

Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (7)

Sawyer Dermer, 2, tries to duck away from a friendly goat at the petting zoo during the 2023 Bedford County Fair. Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb

“We are trying to get back to a bigger carnival like we had many years ago,” Hallstrom said, noting “2024 is a year of change for us.”

A horse pull is slated for Wednesday, July 17, an event not held in about 15 years, he said, adding that “people have asked for it.”

The carnival rides will open at 1 p.m. July 13 and July 20, 2 p.m. July 14 and July 16, and 4 p.m. the other five days, including opening night.

“We had to look at the costs to operate the rides, it didn’t make sense to open at noon if no one was there to ride them,” Hallstrom said.

The $5 gate admission includes entertainment on the Grove Stage and Expo II Plaza, harness racing, livestock exhibits, commercial and noncommercial vendors, art/photography, needlework, baked goods and agricultural exhibits.

Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (8)

Ryan Hite, 10, of Carrolltown leads Gary, his grand champion veal back to his stall after judging at the 2022 American Legion County Fair in Ebensburg. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Carnival rides and parking are not included in the gate admission.

Free events — included in the gate admission cost — on the grandstand include the fair queen contest on July 14, parade and fireworks on July 15, harness racing on July 16 and the July 17 horse pulls.

Among the entertainment lineup on the grandstand — which require an additional admission fee — are Warren Zeiders on July 12, Rick Springfield on July 19 and Riley Green on July 20. Koi Drag Racing, July 13, and truck and tractor pulls, July 18, are also on the schedule.

A complete schedule and ticket price information can be found at clearfieldcountyfair.com.

Bedford celebrates 150th

Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (9)

Adrianna Wilkinson, 17, of Gallitzin grooms her 2023 American Legion County Fair Grand Champion 4-H Dairy Beef “Bandit” in the cattle barn. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

The Bedford County Fair, set for July 21-27, is celebrating its 150th event — having taken off a year for World War II and one for COVID-19, said John Zembower, entertainment chairman.

“We have reached 150 years, not too many can say that,” he said. “Our original fair was in 1873.”

Like Clearfield, the Bedford fair has made a few changes this year, namely a new promoter for the truck and tractor pulls.

Appalachian Outlaws are “famous out west,” Zembower said of the promoter. The tractor pull — scheduled for Sunday, July 21, will have more divisions this year, too, he added.

Other entertainment on tap includes the dog show Marvelous Mutts, chainsaw artists and lumberjacks.

Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (10)

Families and friends crowded around the midway attractions at the 2023 Bedford County Fair.Tossing ping pong balls in the hopes of winning a gold fish were (from left) Mike Truax, his sister, Nicole Spade, his wife, Erica Truax, and their children Emmy, 3, and Ellie, 8.Mirror photo by Holly Claycomb

“Bullride Mania on Wednesday is one of the best shows in the United States,” Zembower said. Demolition derbies will be held Tuesday and Thursday and always draw a crowd to the grandstand, while auto racing is set for Friday, July 26.

Zembower said the fair, which usually attracts between 40,000 and 60,000 visitors, expects to have more than 1,000 animals entered in the various contests.

The fair features a $12 pay-one price admission, which includes grandstand events and midway rides. There are specials, though. On Monday, promoted as family day, admission is just $6 per person. Monday is also Military Day, where military personnel and veterans are admitted free with proper ID.

Parking is $3 a day.

For more information, visit bedford-fair.com.

Huntingdon makes improvements

The 80th Huntingdon County Fair will be held Aug. 4-10 and fair President Mark Miller said some improvements have been made at the fairgrounds.

“We partnered with Valley Rural Electric to install two family seating areas where people can sit and eat. We have upgraded some of our bleacher grandstands,” Miller said.

The fair, which usually attracts between 60,000 and 65,000 visitors, is a very agriculture-oriented fair featuring numerous 4-H and FFA projects, Miller said.

The fair is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission at the main gate is $5 for adults, free to children 12 and younger; parking is also free.

In addition to the fair queen contest, mini tractor pulls and a variety of project animal shows, the fair features a demolition derby Monday, with admission set at $10.

An antique tractor pull will be held at the grandstand on Wednesday and a talent show will be held on the midway stage.

Thursday features a truck and tractor pull at the grandstand, with tickets set at $8, and the Uptown Band featuring Erich Cawalla on the midway stage.

The 4-H and FFA Junior Livestock Sale begins at 9 a.m. Friday. Truck pulls are slated for the evening, with tickets at $8, and Stars of the Wheeling Jamboree will take the midway stage.

The fair wraps up Saturday, Aug. 10, with the annual Grange Breakfast, pedal tractor pulls and Chris Woodward & Shindiggin’. A demolition derby, $12, begins at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit huntingdoncountyfair.com.

Grange Fair tradition continues

From Aug. 16-24, the Centre County Grange Fair is a home away from home for families in 1,000 tents and 1,500 RVs.

With a 150-year history, it is the only remaining encampment in the United States, and during fair week, it becomes the third largest city in Centre County behind State College and Bellefonte.

The fair typically has more than 6,000 exhibits including about 300 food and craft vendors. It draws about 200,000 visitors each year.

Free concerts include Jo Dee Messina on Aug. 16 and a Tribute to the Beach Boys on Aug. 21.

More information can be found at grangefair.com.

The American Legion County Fair in Ebensburg, formerly known as the Cambria County Fair, will be held Sept. 1-7. The event typically attracts about 40,000 visitors. Information about the 2024 schedule was not available.

Community fairs

Blair County is home to five smaller community fairs — Morrisons Cove Dairy Show, Williamsburg Community Farm Show, Claysburg Farm Show, Sinking Valley Fair and Hollidaysburg Community Fair.

— The Morrisons Cove Dairy Show, which typically features more than 200 dairy cows, will be held July 29-Aug. 2 and features a new event.

“We have added calf dressing, where youth in teams bring in a calf or another small animal and dress it up, it can be a theme, such as Hawaiian. The kids also dress up and then they are judged,” said secretary Melissa Benfer.

An annual fair highlight is the pie and ice cream festival at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Entertainment by Jeff Corle starts at 7:30 p.m.

— The Williamsburg Community Farm Show will be held Aug. 18-24.

“We expect to see an increase in the number of exhibitors and vendors this year coming off of a great 2023 farm show. We have seen growth over the last few years and have no reason to believe 2024 won’t be the same,” President Jeff Walason said. “We have a lot of new things again this year that people can enter and be part of the show. We added Legos, Chalk Art (drawn on the pavement) and homemade beer. We will have amusem*nt rides back again, new musical entertainment, celebrity milking contests and, as always, the parade.”

— The 93rd Claysburg Farm Show will be held Sept. 3-7 at the former Queen grade school building in Queen.

“Part of the attraction is that it continues to be held in the old Queen school building built in the 1930s. It is nostalgic, like going back in time,” President Aaron Hileman said.

Despite being such a small show, Claysburg attracts a lot of entries.

“We do a lot with the elementary and high school art programs. We usually have between 300 and 400 entries,” Hileman said. “Between the crafts, quilts, knitting and blankets, we probably have about 150 in that room; at least 200 in vegetables; and another 200 in flowers. In the baking and canning room we have between 200 and 300 entries.”

— The Sinking Valley Fair, which was canceled last year because of a lack of volunteers, will return for its 80th fair Sept. 10-14.

“Last year was a surprise to people, they just assumed after 79 years it was still going strong. I was getting no volunteers, so we canceled,” President Gary Long said. “We have had a lot of volunteers show up for this year. We would normally have 4 to 5 people at a board meeting but started getting about 25. It totally surprised me. We have a full board to put on a show this year,” he said.

While optimistic, Long said he is concerned about the number of entries.

“We could be down because of last year. We won’t know until the day of the fair,” heg said.

— The Hollidaysburg Community Fair will be held Sept. 16-19.

“This is our 87th fair. We are trying to get some food trucks, we are trying to get more foot traffic. We have lots of people who want to exhibit the stuff they have grown and made,” President Apryl Smith said. “We have lots of games like corn hole, pie eating and milk drinking. We only have a few hundred exhibits. We are a small fair like the Claysburg Fair.”

Poultry rules

Poultry will be allowed at county fairs across the Mid-Atlantic this year after two years of restrictions because of avian influenza. In Pennsylvania, market poultry are allowed, but they must be on and off the fairgrounds within 72 hours. Birds must move to slaughter after judging. None may be taken home.

Bird owners must provide an Owner Endorsed Avian Health Certificate and Biosecurity Statement from the state Department of Agriculture. Birds must have a negative avian influenza test within 14 days of exhibition.

Eggs and decorative feathers are also allowed if they meet cleanliness standards and come from avian influenza-negative flocks.

But don’t expect to see poultry at most area fairs.

“We will not be accepting those exhibits again this year,” Walason said. “The Department of Agriculture’s rules are cost prohibitive for an exhibitor to enter anything while covering the cost of the testing required. Plus it adds to the documentation the farm show will need to be reviewing along with the logistics of having the market poultry only allowed on site for a limited time. So no eggs, poultry or feathers again this year.”

Walason said Williamsburg is an agricultural town with large dairies and chicken barns.

“We are being cautious with poultry and the spread of avian influenza in dairy cattle,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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Season for smiles: Region gearing up for spate of county fairs (2024)
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