139th Annual Grange Fair Gets Under Way
Family, tradition, community and celebration will all come together to create the 139th Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, the nation’s most unique county fair, Aug. 22-29.
Known as a ‘city within a town,’ campers move into Grange Park in Centre Hall to live for more than a week. Tents are occupied, complete with porches, kitchens and TVs. RVs are parked. Food and games vendor booths have moved in for the week full of live entertainment and traditional fair competitions.
With fair preparation complete, general manager Darlene Confer said the fair committee, campers and concessionaires were ready for Thursday’s grand opening. Now it is time to celebrate all the Grange Fair has to offer.
“As usual, we have a lot to offer people. Our fair is not only just concession and rides. It’s about family living and providing all sorts of entertainment and education items for children,” she said.
Though visitors will find all the traditional aspects of fairs and carnivals at the Grange Fair, they will also find unusual items like an on-site library, Zumba classes, jazzercise and the legendary ‘mini-city’ tent community.
“We are so much more than just a regular fair. That’s what makes the Centre County Grange Fair a great fair, not just a good fair,” Confer said. “Every year is special at Grange Fair. People like being a part of that specialty and being a part of the history.”
To ensure the fair remains special, Confer said it is very important to have a wide variety of exhibits and acts that entertain and educate.
“We want to stand out as being an exceptional fair. Part of our mission is education. By offering all of those sorts of items, it’s helping us to achieve that mission.”
Educating and entertaining children plays a huge role in Grange Fair planning.
“The children are our future, so we want them to be here, to have great experiences while they are here and to experience a lot of things,” Confer said.
Stories of these experiences have made their way across the nation, as Confer was approached by women at the International Association of Fair and Expo National Conference. Confer said the women immediately recognized the Grange Fair’s uniqueness, stressing that they had been waiting for her to come to the event.
Encounters like this remind Confer just how special the fair is.
“I think sometimes we become so familiar with the experience year after year that we forget just how special they are to outsiders. I think sometimes when we are so familiar with something, we take it for granted,” she said.
To make sure each visitor experiences the extraordinary aspects of the fair, Confer said the committee works hard to follow through with its mission providing tradition and education in a unique way.
“I just think that it’s outstanding that we can be this fair that is educating our youth and even our adults, exposing them to new things, new ideas and new technologies,” she said. “It is something that you can hear about it, you can read about, but until you’ve come and actually experienced it, you can’t really imagine what it is really like.”
IF YOU GO
What: 139th annual Grange Fair
Where: Grange Fairgrounds, Centre Hall
When: Aug. 22-29
Tickets: Single day admission, $6; General admission season ticket, $15; Parking, $6; Weekly parking $16.
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