Bloomsburg Fair starts this Friday

PHOTO PROVIDED
A crowd gathers around midway games during last year’s Bloomsburg Fair. The show starts on Friday and continues through Sept. 30.

PHOTO PROVIDED A crowd gathers around midway games during last year’s Bloomsburg Fair. The show starts on Friday and continues through Sept. 30.

BLOOMSBURG — Few venues hold all of the enchantments of a zoo, amusement park, museum, concert hall and food court in one place, yet the Bloomsburg Fair offers all of these options within its 225 acres.

The state fair starts Friday and runs through Sept. 30.

“This year’s fair is fun-packed with activities and displays for people of all ages, and we have a great line up of entertainment,” said Delores Wright, director of news and publicity for the fair. “We have a wide variety of free shows performing throughout the day to complement the wonderful singers that will delight attendees in the evening.”

The fair’s main attractions are loosely grouped together in sections, interspersed liberally with vendors hawking food, souvenirs, crafts, clothes, jewelry and wares of all sorts. Regardless of whether visitors go straight to their favorite attraction first or save the best for last, everyone will put some miles on their soles to see it all.

Love those animals

Fairgoers who can’t resist petting a pig, staring eye-to-eye with a cow or having a picture taken with a goat may want to start their visit at Gate 5 near the animal barns.

Farmers and members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs show off the size and quality of their animals at competitions for cattle, swine, poultry, rabbits, dogs, goats and horses.

Enjoy pony drill team performances and educational demonstrations by 4-H members and listen for the baby peeps that will be strutting their puffball feathers nearby.

On Sept. 29, teams of horses will pull a weighted sled for more than 27 feet to compete for a $1,000 prize. Lightweight and heavyweight teams come from Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Vermont and Maine to match up against local Pennsylvania teams.

Horse lovers will also enjoy the harness races to be held Friday and Saturday, with more than $75,000 in purse money at stake.

Other competitions include agility dogs, which will perform several times throughout the week, sheep shearing and a shawl-weaving contest.

Those wanting an enchanted ride can hop on Cinderella’s carriage drawn by six gentle giants — 1-ton Percherons.

While near the animal section, visitors can order some freshly fried pierogis or hash browns, or apple dumplings and homemade soup. Then pick up the latest kitchen gadget or tool on a short trip through the grandstand concessions.

Rides, games and fooling the guesser

Visitors who get jazzed by flying, whirling, spinning and turning upside down to carnival music may want to enter the fair at Gate 8 where Reithoffer’s has its usual assortment of Ferris wheels, swings, rockets and games to suit all adventurers.

Those who prefer a tamer but no less exhilarating experience can take advantage of the sky ride that hovers 25 feet above the ground from one end of the fair to the other.

A much higher view is available — from a helicopter that can be hired outside the gates on the south side of the grounds.

Those who like to keep their feet on the ground can toss rings, basketballs or darts to win a wide range of prizes.

The young and young-at-heart can try to fool the guesser about their age, height or even their real hair color.

While among the rides, visitors can pick up a hot dog, some roasted peanuts or a selection of candy, although they’re often best eaten after they are done with the rides.

Entertainment

of all sorts

For its relatively small concert venue of about 7,500 seats, the fair pulls in some big name Grammy winners to entertain in the evenings.

Toby Mac, with his blend of rock, pop, hip hop and soul, will kick off the week with a concert next Sunday.

All-time fair favorite Alabama will close out the week with its foot-tapping style on Sept. 30.

Other country performers include Martina McBride (Sept. 26) and Dustin Lynch (Sept. 29). Singer Paul Anka will perform a mix of classic rock songs on Sept. 25. The center piece for the week will be Chicago performing their classic rock songs on Sept. 27.

Automotive lovers will thrill to the Double Championship Figure 8 racing in the evening on Sept. 28 or the Automobile Rollover Contest held that same afternoon. Tractor and truck pulls will be held on Saturday followed later in the week with a bone-crushing Pennsylvania State Championship Demolition Derby slated for noon on Sept. 30.

Free daily entertainment includes multiple shows of the royal Bengal tigers with trainer Brunon Blaszak and shows by a dozen bands. The Circus Incredible will enthrall audiences with amazing acrobatic feats and the Rhinestone Roper will spin guns and ropes and throw whips and knives with astonishing accuracy.

History buffs, bakers, educators, plant lovers

Enter at Gate 2 or 3 to start the day with a visit to the Rupert School House museum or the Caleb Barton historic house, faithfully restored to mid-19th century architecture and furnishings. Surrounding the house is an extensive garden with hundreds of heirloom perennials, vegetables and herbs.

Next door is one of the fair’s new attractions, the historic barn exhibit, which houses farming implements from more than a century ago.

Daily demonstrations in the area include quilting, chair caning, bobbin lace and broom making, weaving, wood utensil carving and blacksmithing.

Cooking experts show how to make old fashion sauerkraut, horseradish, butter and soap.

Civil War reenactors and a dulcimer musician will stroll the grounds.

Near the museums are five exhibit halls, starting with the education building with displays of science and technology projects, and artwork by children from many local school districts.

Next door is the Industrial Building, housing a variety of exhibits and concessions related to industrial enterprises.

Those with an artistic eye will appreciate the array of photographs, pottery, quilts, metal work and other artwork vying for prizes in the Arts and Crafts building. Live demonstrations of ink pen artwork, poetry and gourd decorating will be held in the building throughout the week.

The Horticulture Hall showcases the winners of decorating contests for mantles, flowerpots and tables, along with a wide range of indoor and outdoor plants. Then stop by the Agricultural Hall to see how large the winning pumpkin is and admire the winning entries for baked goods, fruits, nuts, vegetables and grange displays of canned goods.

A public auction will begin at 8 p.m. Sept. 30 (registration at 7 p.m.) for the horticulture displays and autographed photos of main stage entertainers.

Pick up an assortment of taffy candies at a nearby taffy pulling display to take home — if they make it home — and then head to the Farm Museum Building to see a range of agricultural tools and machinery used more than 100 years ago.

Food: Not just

hot dogs and fries

The area near the Farm Museum is a good place to find favorite fair foods including hot sausage sandwiches and lemonade, caramel apples and cider, homemade potato chips and barbeque, pizza and soda, and chicken dinners with mashed potatoes, veggies and a bun.

Last year’s pork chop on a stick was a big hit and is returning this year. Top it off with a funnel cake or fresh ice cream.

Walking between food stands gives visitors the time to shop hundreds of vendors for souvenirs, crafts, clothes, jewelry, and all types of small and large home products including wool blankets, satellite dishes, hot tubs and furniture. Large farm machinery, horse trailers, motorcycles and other vehicles will also be on display.

Plenty of fun activities for children

Young children will enjoy the merry-go-round, mini-roller coaster and other rides that gently swing and glide in the kiddie section of the fairgrounds near Gate 2.

Other activities designed just for youngsters include daily mutton busting events, cow milking, scavenger hunts and pumpkin painting.

A pedal tractor course and corn box will be sure to delight while parents get a brief respite from walking.

Ready to go?

Admission is charged from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Exhibit buildings are open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. and vendor stands are open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for the day, with several special admission days for seniors, veterans and high school students. Children 12 and under are free.

Parking is $5, with free tram or bus service to and from admission gate.

Details about times, costs and directions may be found at www.bloomsburgfair.com.

Check out the Facebook page (Bloomsburg Fair) and Twitter feed @Bloomsburg_Fair for more news.

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