Westmoreland County Fair enters its 58th year
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Organizers of this year's Westmoreland County Fair are getting ready to welcome 60,000 visitors for nine days, from Aug. 17-25.
In its 58th year, the fair will be held at the county fairgrounds in Mount Pleasant Township and will offer a variety of attractions -- rides, games, food and entertainment, including local bands and nightly drag races, demolition derbies and tractor pulls.
The county's farm families will proudly show their animals, with youngsters in 4-H competing to win blue ribbons in contests ranging from baking to rocketry.
Last year's fair drew 59,000 people.
Julia Tuttle, 20, of Delmont, has been the Westmoreland County Fair Queen for the past year. On the first night of this year's fair, she will pass her crown to the new queen.
It's been an exciting experience, Ms. Tuttle said, who lives with her mother, Barbara, and attends Westmoreland County Community College with plans to go into nursing.
"I've gone to different events to promote the fair all year," she said. "I've been to parades and to the Farm City Days in Harrisburg, where I've talked to young people about agriculture. And I was in the State Fair contest in January in Hershey. I had to give an introduction in front of 1,200 people.
"I could talk in front of people before, but being queen brought my confidence up. It was well worth it. I like to talk about how important agriculture is and how it's linked to what we eat."
She noted that the fair's theme last year was "From the farm gate to the dinner plate."
"My grandparents and aunt lived on a farm, so I've been around animals my whole life," she said. She showed animals for three years at the fair. Now, she is too old to take part in 4-H, but she attends the fair every year.
"It's my vacation," she said. "It's the one week I always take off to spend time with my friends and animals. Sometimes we sleep there, some people bring campers, or we bring air mattresses and sleep in a horse stall."
In addition to animals, the fair will have about 200 vendors, with some offering unusual food.
"Pig wings" have been at the fair for a couple of years and will be offered by a vendor from Perryopolis in Fayette County.
"It's the piece from the shoulder to the knee," said Michelle Long, county fair secretary. "They are baked and barbecued."
Chocolate-covered bacon also will be back, along with gyros, hot sausage, funnel cakes and snow cones.
About eight contests -- in skills such as throwing axes at wooden targets and cutting logs with chain saws -- are expected to attract contestants from all over the area.
A new contest this year will be a Lumberjack Jamboree competition at 10 a.m. Aug. 19. Also new this year is a race for four-wheel drive trucks at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21.
"It will be a dirt drag race, with the tracks next to each other," Ms. Long said. Anyone can enter the competition.
Ms. Long said the most popular events are the demolition derbies, which will be held Aug. 19, 22 and 25. A super stock tractor pull will be held Aug. 24, with local and out-of-state drivers competing on semis and triaxle vehicles. Often, those events attract crowds of 5,000 to 12,000 in the grandstand area.
The fair has an air-conditioned hospitality room in the general store where senior citizens and those with young children can escape the heat, Ms. Long said. Vendors plan to have extra water on hand.
Ms. Long noted the fair could not be held without the help of sponsors and volunteers. This year, 45 sponsors, the most ever, are helping with the fair.
"We have media sponsors that provide in-kind help, and sponsors like Excela Health that donate money," she said. "All in all, the sponsors contribute a total of $215,000 through in-kind and cash donations."
"We have tons of volunteers, too," she said, "and we couldn't do it without them."
The 20 members on the board of directors are hands-on managers of departments and events at the fair, and they come from all walks of life.
Charlie Feightner, board secretary, is retired from First Commonwealth Bank and is a member of the Greensburg Kiwanis. He will organize the taking of tickets at the admission gates.
Craig Lash, a dairy farmer from Sewickley Township, is board president. He always looks forward to the fair as a break from the grueling farm routine. The agricultural component of the fair is his favorite part, and he enjoys showing his cows and seeing old friends.
And, he knows what makes for a successful fair -- the weather.
"Our farmers want rain, but we want the rain to stop for the fair," he said with a laugh.
First Published August 2, 2012 5:06 am