Time to say goodbye
“It’s all o-ver,” a man was chanting halfheartedly from his recreational vehicle Thursday afternoon.
“See ya next week in school,” a young boy said to a friend outside his family’s tent at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.
There were more than a few goodbye hugs as the week-plus of festivities started winding down Thursday afternoon, the fair’s final day.
Craig Rogers, for one, was ready to go.
A State College-area native, Rogers now lives with his family in Maine, and was facing an 11-hour drive Friday to get back home.
“We’re ready to go,” he said with a laugh. “We’re broke. The kids have a meltdown. And that’s what happens.”
Rogers said he had a “sweet” week catching up with family and friends. He and his wife, Nancy, met at the fair in 1972 and have been married for 42 years. They’ve been camping in the same spot for decades, and have known many of their neighbors almost that long.
“We try to tell people in Maine about this, but they don’t understand,” Nancy Rogers said.
“They don’t have a clue,” her husband said.
Some campers might have been ready to start heading out, but the other prominent residents of the fair got a head start Thursday.
Trailers were hauling cows and goats from the grounds Thursday afternoon. The stables and pens that held them for the week grew more sparse as the day wore on. Groups of 4-H members were taking down the colorful ribbons their animals earned.
At the rabbit barn, some lucky children were picking out new pets.
For Destiny Rhoads, 8, of Howard, the highlights of the fair were the two rabbits and goldfish she took home.
Attendance was up and down at the 140th edition of the fair, said general manager Darlene Confer.
Some soggy days at the start hurt overall numbers, but the weather rebounded and organizers counted 25,000 attendees Sunday, a record for that day, Confer said.
“It was another great fair,” Confer said. “It started out a little damp. But our residents, our 2,500 resident families, adapted very well. There were so few complaints. I’m just amazed, because it was really wet out there.”
Confer said organizers tried a few new things this year to draw a younger crowd, including a BMX show and a mounted shooter expo at the equine facility.
“The fact that we’ve been here 140 years, that is an amazing statistic according to my standards,” she said. “And the fact that we still have so many people interested in joining us as part of our Grange family.
“The number of people who continue to come in and want to be on the tent waiting list, the RV waiting list, it just isn’t waning,” Confer said. “It’s still so very popular.”