Some things that you won’t see on television reruns this summer: kids trying to catch a greased pig, blue-ribbon cherry pie and fresh-picked corn on the cob, dripping with butter—will be regular occurences at fairs across the state this summer.
It’s all wrapped in the sights and sounds of an old-time Pennsylvania county fair. Stare into the dazzling galaxy of lights on the midway. Follow the scent of fried dough to the funnel cakes. Lick the remnants of cotton candy off of your fingers. Lose the gravity weighing you down with a turn on the Ferris wheel.
From now through October, Pennsylvania offers 103 fairs—some are bright and gaudy and jammed with people. Others recall times when country folk got together to celebrate the harvest, and—oh, yes—brag over their giant pumpkins.
Some of the nation’s biggest and best fairs are in Pennsylvania, including the Washington County Fair (August 11-18), Crawford County Fair (August 18-25), Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair (August 23-30),The Great Allentown Fair (August 28-September 3), Bloomsburg Fair (September 22-29) and the Ephrata Fair (September 25-29). Sure, there are midways, Tilt-a-Whirls and big-time country music acts, but where else can you cheer on your pick in the swine races or compete in a milk-chugging contest?
This year’s Washington County Fair will be a blast from the past, but amid the doo wop and jazz music, you’ll also find a school bus demolition derby, professional rodeo and, of course, an “amoosing” milk chugging contest.
The Budweiser Clydesdales are paraded around the fairgrounds of the Crawford County Fair in Meadville, where judges rate everything from pygmy goats to maple syrup to a Fair Queen. Be sure not to miss country star Alan Jackson when he takes the main stage August 18.
If you are looking for the ultimate in family experiences, the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair should be on your list. A temporary makeshift city springs up in Centre Hall that week, when families occupy 950 tents on the fairgrounds—some families go back as far as five generations on one tent site.
In Allentown, be entertained by the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, take in a history lesson with the Civil War Road Show, which marks the 150th anniversary of the Union soldier encampment on the old Allentown Fairgrounds, or score tickets to acts such as Blake Shelton, The Fresh Beat Band and the J. Geils Band.
Tractor and truck pulls, more than 1,400 animals and an entertainment lineup that includes Kenny Rogers and Alan Jackson will kick off the Bloomsburg Fair, one of the largest agricultural fairs on the East Coast, in September.
Attendees to the 94th Annual Ephrata Fair will enjoy the largest street fair in the state, complete with pig chase, tractor games and a grand parade.