County fair’s gate price has lots to offer
By POLLY SMITH
County Fair Writer
Summer to most people has a beginning, middle and end. It starts with the Memorial Day weekend parades and picnics. July 4th’s fireworks signal summer’s midpoint. Hints of the reopening of schools, followed by Labor Day weekend, symbolize the end of summer. But wait! The first full week of August is a special time for hundreds of young and old who anticipate its arrival each year – the Huntingdon County Fair. The 2013 version of this local tradition since 1831 opens Sunday, Aug. 4, at the 9-acre site along Fairgrounds Road in Smithfield Township. For those visiting Raystown Lake or any other recreational or historic parts of the Huntingdon area during the fair week, Aug. 4-10, make it a point to follow the line of vehicles turning off Routes 22 or 26 and head toward the grounds where there is no charge to park.
This fair, for the ticket price of $5 for visitors 12 and over, offers all the sights and sounds of a traditional agricultural exposition. It may be the one opportunity a “city kid” has to stand in close proximity to a dairy cow, horse, pig, goat or steer. Rabbits are among the familiar species, but just how many types of rabbits can be gathered in one place? There could be as many as two dozen types among the 400 or so entries at this fair. Anyone interested in more than just looking at the youth exhibits of market livestock and show animals may watch the young 4-H and FFA members carefully flip their bunny on its back for the judges at the Sunday show or drag a reluctant steer around the ring Wednesday morning for the chance to be named champion. The Thursday morning Premier Showman contest culminates the week for champion showmen in each species as they demonstrate their abilities to handle animals outside their usual comfort zone to be selected the “best of the best.”
The cost of strolling the barns or standing at the shows is only the price of the gate admission. Entrance to one of Pennsylvania’s finest farm and home museums is also included in the $5 price. When one building could not hold all of the exhibits of every example of early rural living, a second one was built. Volunteers maintain the displays from floor to ceiling. Take the time necessary to see it all and to ask questions. All ages love the antique vehicle parade that circles the fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon, a finale of the Farm Museum’s competition for ribbons.
There are hundreds of other exhibits in Neary, Laney and Johnson halls – the fruits of labors of area residents who vie for small cash awards and ribbons. Some may walk away with best of show for their painting, quilt, homespun yarn, canned peaches, bookcase, fruit wine, bale of hay, angel food cake, garden vegetables or cut flowers. It’s inspiring to see how others enjoy spending time away from necessary work. As with the others mentioned, there is only the admission price to see the exhibits or visit the business exhibits inside the halls and on the grounds. Each evening, Monday through Saturday, the sounds of live music flow from the Midway Stage where there is no extra charge to sit and listen to bluegrass, rock or traditional.