Fair officials receive honors
LeDon Young had no idea she was going to be honored by the Pennsylvania secretary of agriculture on Thursday night.
When he named her the Outstanding Fair Ambassador for the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, she was speechless.
“I accept on behalf of ...the hundreds of folks dedicated to this fair. We couldn’t do it without you,” she said.
Jack Bell did much the same thing as the fair committee honored him for his years of service. His family knew what was happening. They had helped committee President Ben Haagen prepare for the announcement, writing up a biography for him.
Bell is the second vice president of the committee, but he started his tenure with the fair more than 40 years ago. In the early 1970s, he would park the RV’s for camping. Today, he still gives credit to those who do the heavy lifting, urging people to thank the maintenance crews for keeping the fairgrounds neat and beautiful.
Young has a new project that she says people have been asking about for years. On Tuesday, a compilation of the tenting history of the Grange Fair will be available for $10 at the emporium. Young says it contains the whole record of who has camped where from 1887 to 2014. It was meticulously researched from fair records, as well as newspaper accounts from the Centre Daily Times and other publications.
“We figured we better do it now, so when we have the 280th (fair), we can just update it,” she said.
Young and old make the rounds
Even little kids meet old friends at the fair.
Luke Boob is just 11/2, but the Penns Valley tot was out for a jaunt around the grounds, with uncle Nate Besecker and soon-to-be aunt Ashley Shaffer, in his stroller and some muddy boots when they ran into 2-year-old Grayson Homan.
Homan was taking in the sights with his mom, Reva. He’s an experienced fairgoer already, this being his third year, and he knew just what he wanted to see. For him, the Grange Fair is all about the tractors.
They were all part of the crowds that were just starting to show up in the early evening after drenching rains soaked the grounds, leading to deep water in some of the tenting rows and serious puddles in some parking areas.
Manager Darlene Confer said attendance was a little low Thursday afternoon because of the rain, but she wasn’t worried. In fact, she was glad some things were already done. RV parking in the wet weather could have ended in seriously stuck motor homes, she said.
A sticky business
Centre County residents have a real sweet tooth.
Caleb Poorman of Mr. Sticky’s, a Williamsport and Lancaster-based purveyor of the sticky and cinnamon buns, has practically grown up at the Grange Fair. His family business has been on the scene for 32 years, first as the Boarding House Restaurant and then becoming the baked-good shop it is today.
“I’ve been here since I was five years old,” he said.
His spicy, caramel-scented trailer does a brisk trade in rolled breads, coiling and slicing about 8,000 sticky buns over the course of the fair. All of the doughs, schmears and frostings are made from scratch, no shortcuts allowed.
His menu is the same each place he goes, with plain sticky buns, walnut stickies and simple cinnamon rolls, all with the option of peanut butter or cream cheese frosting on the side. What is most popular at the Grange Fair?
“The regular sticky with cream cheese frosting. That’s what everyone wants here,” he said.
Wheels on the wagon go round...
Sometimes fair fun is about the rides, and sometimes it’s about the rides you make yourself.
Jordan Anderson, 11, of Centre Hall, had a banana split in one hand and was tugging a huge load of kids down the makeshift streets of the Grange Fair. The wooden wagon was homemade, because how else are you going to get a wagon big enough, and strong enough, to accommodate five kids?
Madison Ripka, 10, of Pennsylvania Furnace, piled in first, with Faith Wolfe, 9, Grace Wolfe, 7, Hope Wolfe, 5, and William Wolfe, 3, along for the ride, no wristband required.