County fairs pack midway with fun and food, and grandstand with trucks and country jams
July 26, 2012 4:00 AM
GENE J. PUSKAR
The ferris wheel at the Allegheny County Fair.
Demolition Derby at the Westmoreland County Fair.
Having had their day in the city, this is when the people who stir the kettle corn and pour the giant lemonade cups head for the outskirts.
It's county fair season all over the Tri-State area, and that means truck pulls, carnival rides, country bands, pageant queens, pig races, petting zoos, Frisbee-chasing dogs and clowns -- clowns at the dunk tank, clowns in the sideshow circus, clowns in the rodeo and one appearance by the Dee Snider clown of Twisted Sister.
Most of the fairs have demolition derbies, but the Clearfield County Fair, for one, says no to that destruction.
"We have a truck pull, but we do not do a demolition derby nor will we ever again," says fair manager Greg Hallstrom. "Our facility is not designed to do it properly. It's too much of a risk to have cars banging into each other with our main stage sitting there. Last thing we need is our stage getting smashed when we have a show that night."
The Clearfield Fair is one that emphasizes its concert lineup, not all of which is country. This year it has The Band Perry, Hot Chelle Rae, The Clarks and Great White with Twisted Sister.
"We try to get some of the big names, and it generally works out for us. We do go with some smaller bands, but we put them on the free stage."
Westmoreland, on the other hand, plays down the concert aspect, sticking with lesser names like Girlz in Black Hats and Whiskey Outlaws.
"Our niche is that we stress and emphasize family and family fun," says fair secretary Michelle Long. "Our claim to fame is the down-home feel people get whenever people come."
That down-home feel does encompass tractor pulls, which is the most popular event at the fair, drawing up to 12,000 people, she says, "because we have the big stuff, the kind of stuff that throws out fire and smoke, and we have two tracks going at one time, so there's no delay."
Among the newer attractions at Westmoreland is the Lumberjack Jamboree, which features the kind of hand-saw-cutting and ax-throwing competitions you find on ESPN. There's also the Farmer's Olympics, where the public can compete in an obstacle course that includes hay hauling, cow milking and milk chugging.
-- Scott Mervis
CLARION COUNTY FAIR
This fair got started Sunday and continues with farm tractor pulls Friday and Saturday and daily events, including a children's barn, livestock exhibits and home and garden exhibits.
Admission: $8; free parking.
Directions: Redbank Valley Municipal Park in Alcola, 1.5 miles north of New Bethlehem on Route 28 north.
Daily shows include Nerveless Nocks stunts performance, Kay Rosaire's Big Cat Encounter lion exhibit, The Barnyard Petting Zoo and Pigs Gone Wild! racing.
The musical headliners are The Clarks (Friday), The Fabulous Hubcaps (Monday), Steve Smith Band (Aug. 2) and Davisson Brothers Band (Aug. 4). Motor sports include demolition derby (today, Tuesday and Aug. 4), motocross races (Sunday) and monster truck races (Wednesday). If rodeo is more your thing, make sure to attend the "Boys and Bulls" Rodeo on Aug. 2.
Admission: $13, advance admission $10 at local retailers, $11 early bird; check website for details.
Directions: Fayette County Fairgrounds, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Route 119, 20 miles south of New Stanton.
This is the fair with the musical blockbusters. This year, the headliners are Hot Chelle Rae (Tuesday, $28), Chris Higbee & The Clarks (Wednesday, $21), The Band Perry (Aug. 3, $33) and Jac & Jil, Great White and Twisted Sister (Aug. 4, $30).
Daily events include appearances by Buffo, the world's strongest clown, harness racing and a family circus. The Fair Queen Competition will be held Sunday, a day before the fair officially kicks off.
Admission: $8, advanced admission $7; check website for details; $4 for parking.
Directions: From I-80, take exit 120; Route 879 south to Route 322 west, follow signs. The fair is at the Driving Park, off Mill Road and Turnpike Road.
Opening day brings a 4-H roundup and the queen contest, while monster truck rides, a petting zoo, and amusement rides will be available each day.
Other attractions include horse shows (Aug. 5), tractor pulls (Aug. 6-8, 11) and demolition derby (Aug. 10). Music will be provided by The Kiger Band (Aug. 8), Made in America Band (Aug. 9) and The Chris Higbee Project Band (Aug. 9).
Directions: Waynesburg exit off I-79 to Route 21 and the Greene County Fairgrounds.
The Farm Show has everything from bicycle races to log-pulling contests to demolition derbies. Motor sports events include a truck and tractor pull (Aug. 7), a four-wheel-drive pulling contest (Aug. 8), figure-eight races (Aug. 9), a demolition derby (Aug. 10) and a semi- and tri-axle truck pulls (Aug. 11).
Daily concerts include The Allegheny Drifters (Aug. 6), Lindsey Erin (Aug. 7), Renegades (Aug. 8), No Back Road (Aug. 9), East End Kids (Aug. 10) and Diamonds in the Rough (Aug. 11).
Daily events include animal shows, magic and comedy entertainment by Todd Charles & Lee Germaine, and threshing demonstrations with the exception of Aug. 6.
Directions: Take I-79 north to the Evans City exit; Route 528 to Route 68. Farm Show grounds are on Route 68, three miles west of Butler.
This fair kicks off with a lawn and garden tractor pull at 9 a.m. Aug. 11 and a host of baking contests, including the cocoa cookie contest at 10 a.m.
Attractions include the fair queen contest (Aug. 11), Zambelli fireworks (Aug. 12), a tractor driving contest (Aug. 13), monster trucks (Aug. 14), a 4-H modeling contest (Aug. 15), a kids rodeo (Aug. 16), street stock trucks and mini mod tractors (Aug. 17) and a demolition derby (Aug. 18).
Among the musical highlights are "American Idol" finalist Adam Brock (Aug. 11), The Kiger Band (Aug. 12), Davisson Bros. Band (Aug. 15) and Todd Jones (Aug. 18).
Admission: $9; $6 Aug. 12, 14 and 16; senior citizens free Aug. 13.
Directions: Take I-79 south to exit 41 (Racetrack Road); follow signs to the fairgrounds in Arden.
Grandstand entertainment includes an antique and farm stock tractor pull (Aug. 13) followed by stock tractor and street four-by-four truck pulls on Aug. 14. Also at the venue will be figure-eight races (Aug. 15), a musical performance by Josh Thompson (Aug. 17) and drag racing followed by a fireworks display (Aug. 18).
Weekday attractions include horse games, a drill team and high school band performances. Also enjoy a motorcycle night (Aug. 13), car cruise (Aug. 15) and Lawrence County's Got Talent competition (Aug. 18).
Admission: $8 (rides included, grandstand extra).
Directions: Take Route 108 three miles east of New Castle to Lawrence County Fairgrounds, across from Laurel High School.
Animal judging starts at 9 a.m. on Aug. 17 and goes well into the week with daily events. Other 4-H activities include pet care, cat grooming and showmanship (Aug. 20); the model rocket flight test (Aug. 21); and the public speaking contest (Aug. 22).
Moving on to the musical action, Girlz in Black Hats perform Aug. 18. Other shows taking place include Whiskey Outlaws (Aug. 21), Switch (Aug. 22) and NOmAD (Aug. 25).
Motor sports include lawn mower racing (Aug. 18), demolition derby (Aug. 19) and compact and powder puff derby (Aug. 25). Daily family events include a petting zoo, camel rides and a circus. Also be sure to catch the Farmers Olympics (Aug. 17) and end the fair at the 4-H dance, where you can sweep your sweetheart around the dance floor 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25.
Admission: $7, extra fees for some events. Early bird discount $3 per person before 2 p.m. every day except Aug. 23 and 25. Children 2 and under free.
Directions: Take Pennsylvania Turnpike to Irwin exit and head east to Greensburg. Follow Route 30 to Mount Pleasant exit and go south 6 miles.
This 67-year-old fair is the largest agricultural fair in Pennsylvania and doesn't cut back on other entertainment either. Big-name acts dot the landscape and include Alan Jackson (Aug. 18) and Eli Young Band (Aug. 21). Tickets can be ordered in advance by calling 1-800-585-3737.
The 2011 Crawford County Fair Queen pageant starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 19. The fair is full to the brim with daily agricultural events. Check the website for details. Motor sports action includes the USA-East Regional Truck & Tractor Pull (Aug. 20).
Admission: $5; under 12 free; 65 and older admitted free 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; Crawford County 4-H and FFA members admitted free.
Directions: Take I-79 north to Meadville. The fairgrounds are on Route 77, south of Meadville.
This fair is in a beautiful part of the state, and it's worth the ride.
Events include a bake sale auction and the Farmers and Merchants Parade (Aug. 19); the Supreme Showman Competition (Aug. 23); the Pet Parade and a woodcarving auction (Aug. 24). For rodeo, wander over to the Dave Martin Rodeo at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22. The semi-truck pull kicks off the motor sport events at 7 p.m. Aug. 18, followed by the Figure 8 demolition derby race (Aug. 20) and a 4x4 mud bogging (Aug. 21). The Jack Fullerton Destruction Derby ends it all with a bang at 6 p.m. Aug. 25.
The carnival is open 6-11 p.m. Aug. 20 and 1-4:30 p.m. and 6-11 p.m. Aug. 21-Aug 25.
Admission: $8, includes mechanical rides and grandstand.
Directions: Take Pennsylvania Turnpike exit 10 to Somerset and follow Route 219 south to Meyersdale, about 25 miles.
Events include a princess pageant, queen contest and tractor pulls (Aug. 21); a rodeo (Aug. 22); dirt bike ATV events (Aug. 23); a demolition derby (Aug. 24); and horse pulls, garden tractor pulls and truck & tractor pulls (Aug. 25). Musical performances include Darryl Gatlin (Aug. 22); Rumors Band (Aug. 23); Route 45 (Aug. 24); and Dena Stewart, Nancy Deckant, Castle Country Cloggers, The Moore Sisters, and North Star Kids (Aug. 25).
Admission: $8 until 3 p.m.; $10 thereafter; everything included; free parking. Ages 60 and older free Aug. 22; under 2, free.
Directions: one-half mile north of U.S. Route 30 on Route 168.
Events include an antique tractor pull (Aug. 25); antique motor and machinery show and crowning of Indiana County fair queen (Aug. 26); harness racing plus country star Justin Moore (Aug. 27); log-sawing contest, pick-up pull, sheep and rabbit shows (Aug. 29); cheerleading expo night and milk-chugging contest (Aug. 30); Tri-Star Motors day (Aug. 31); and demolition derby and truck pull (Sept. 1).
Admission: $8; free admission Aug. 26; children under 2 admitted for free.
Directions: From Route 422 or Route 119, take the Wayne Avenue exit and follow Wayne Avenue to Jimmy Stewart Boulevard to the J.S. Mack Community Center.
The 70th annual Big Knob Grange Fair opens with a parade at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28 with Freedom Area High School Marching Band. Events include ATV racing (Aug. 28); horse show (Aug. 29); truck and tractor pull (Aug. 29 and 30); small car and mini-van demolition derbies (Aug. 31); and large car demolition derby (Sept. 1).
Musical acts are Phat Cat (Aug. 28); New Moonlight Country Band (Aug. 30); East Enders and Crows Run Band (Sept. 1).
Admission: For events, $7 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under. Free parking.
Directions: 2 miles east of Rochester, Beaver County, on Big Knob Road.
This huge fair in Ohio predates the Civil War, and it has some great grandstand events.
Ticketed events include U.S. National Free Style Motocross Championship Series (Aug. 30); The World's Largest Demolition Derby (Aug. 31); and Blake Shelton with special guest The Lost Trailers (Sept. 2).
For kids, Old MacDonald's Farm and the Old Milking Parlor will be open throughout the fair.
Admission: Free for children 6 and under, $2 for youth (age 7-12), $7 for adults ($5 on Wednesday) and $7 for senior citizens (62 and up; $5 on Friday). $30 for six-day pass and $15 for three-day pass. Ride prices are $15 Wednesday-Friday and $20 Saturday-Monday.
Directions: The fairgrounds are in Mahoning County, Ohio. Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike west to Ohio Turnpike, to Youngstown exit, then Route 224 Boardman-Canfield Road.
The judging begins on Aug. 30 for everything from flowers to honey to photography. Baked goods will also be judged in the morning and auctioned off at 6 p.m. Motor sports events start with the truck, tractor, and semi pull (Aug. 30), followed by the Demo Derby (Aug. 31). Other motor sports will dot the landscape throughout the fair. The Keelings will perform Aug. 29, and Dave Martin's Bullride Mania takes the grandstand Sept. 3.
Admission: $10 (includes parking, rides and grandstand); 2 years and under, free.
Directions: Between Stoneboro and Sandy Lake on Route 62 in Mercer County.
Information: 724-376-2852 or http:/stoneborofair.info
CAMBRIA COUNTY FAIR
The 121st annual fair starts off with a bang with musical guest Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives performing at 8 p.m. Sept. 2 and continues with country singer Jason Michael Carroll at 7 p.m. Sept. 3.
Motor sports include the Orlo Tractor Pull (Sept. 5); the 4- and 6-cylinder demolition derby (Sept. 7); and the 8-cylinder demolition derby (Sept. 8). There will be a high school band night at 6 p.m. Sept. 4.
Admission: $8 all ages, all-inclusive, $5 special for Sept. 4
Directions: Take Route 22 east to the Ebensburg exit and follow the signs.