As most of you know, I spent the last week living at the 142nd Centre County Grange Fair and Encampment. For two weeks a year the fair becomes its own small town with 1,500 campers and 900 tents comprising the encampment. While Grange may not be the largest or most popular fair, in my eyes it is the most unique. It would take too long to give you a daily recap of everything that goes on at the fair, but I’d like to highlight a few lasting memories that I’ll take away from this year’s fair. So here’s the 2016 version of Grange Fair through my eyes.
My time at the fair consists of a little over two weeks. We moved the camper in on Saturday, August 13 and then I headed to Greene County for a few days. After returning back to Centre County, I spent the rest of the week at Ag Progress Days and finally made it over to the fair for good on Friday, August 19. Throughout the second week of the fair, I actually live in the camper and drive to school from there, returning to the fair each night. That means it’s long hours and little sleep for the entire fair.
In some ways the fair serves as a reunion. Every year my family holds a get together on the first Saturday of the fair. This involves 20 or so people from all over the state (and other states) converging on my camper for the day. For many of us, it’s the only time all year we see each other.
After the get together the group split up with most of them going to the tractor pull, but a few of us decided to go see Adam Yarger sing at the grand stand. Adam is a local who went to Penns Valley High School and is now trying to make it big in the music industry. If you have never heard of him, I highly recommend you give him a listen.
This year I went to the tractor or truck pulls on six different nights, but it’s what happened before the pulls on the second Saturday that I’ll remember. A friend and I decided to walk through the pits about two hours before the start of the pulls. While looking at the Moore Motorsports tractors, Dave and Tara Moore took the time to discuss a lot of their technical details about their tractors to us. While talking to the Moores, Robert Saathoff and his son Robert Jr., owners of the 2016 Hot Farm points champion tractor “Family Affair,” invited us over to their hauler to check out their equipment.
This may not seem like much, but in a competitive industry such as tractor pulling, most people are pretty quiet when you start asking questions. Both the Moores and the Saathoffs were very accommodating and happy to spend time chatting with us. At one point they mentioned how people my age are the future of the sport and without us, there is no future for the sport.
While the pulls are fun, the lasting memory I’ll have of this year’s fair occurred at the Junior Livestock Sale on Friday afternoon. On Christmas Eve 2013, Ethan “Beef” Wolfe was killed in a car accident. Beef, also from Penns Valley, was a Penn State College of Ag student and a brother at Delta Theta Sigma. After his death, the Ethan Wolfe Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in his memory.
This year at the fair, Beef’s niece sold her market hog, and all of the proceeds of the sale went towards the scholarship fund. While it’s not uncommon for kids to donate their money to a local charity, it was really touching to have one that personal.
It’s always sad to see the fair come and go. Even though I just moved the camper out yesterday, preparations have already begun for the 143rd. After all it’s only 347 days until we move the camper in.