A change to the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair scheduled for next year could open the door for county school districts to start a week earlier.
Grange officials announced Thursday, the final day the the 140th annual fair, that the 2015 celebration will occur a week earlier. The dates have also been shifted to allow extra weekend days.
Fair general manager Darlene Confer said that next year, the fair will begin Friday Aug. 21 and continue through Saturday Aug. 29.
This year, the fair also started on Aug. 21, but Labor Day falls much later on the calendar next year. This year, there are three days between the end of the fair and the holiday. Under the schedule for 2015, there would be eight.
Confer noted that students from State College and many other districts across the state now start school on the traditional second week of the fair. It means families who live further away have to leave and others have to shuttle children.
“We’re always trying to accommodate our families, and we have so many who have to leave to take kids to school,” she said. “People have to leave ... because their school starts.
Penns Valley, Bald Eagle and Bellefonte students start school after the fair, but Confer indicated Thursday that those districts have been re-evaluating whether that makes the most sense.
“It was a matter of taking a look at the big picture, looking at the economics, looking at what’s good for fair families and also our other partners,” Confer said. “We just really think this is a good move.”
The change would also add two weekend days, something Confer said should also boost the fair’s bottom line.
“It gives us two weekends,” she said. “Weekends are a very, very good time for us. If we have a rainy weekend, then we can recoup (the next).”
The new schedule cuts it close with Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, which are set for Aug. 18-20 next year.
Confer said Grange officials discussed the changes with Penn State, and were assured they had the university’s blessing.
“We did talk with them before we made any decisions,” she said. “And they were saying that we will not affect them. Their people, the few vendors they have who will leave there and come here, it will just be a late move-in for them — no effect whatsoever.”