OLEY — An estimated 40,000 visitors attended the 73rd Annual Oley Valley Community Fair hosted by the Oley Valley Fair Association on the Oley Fire Company Fairgrounds on Sept. 19, 20 and 21.
“We have had people come from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, and Florida,” said Kristen Stup, Fair Publicity Chair. “The fair continues to grow each year. We do most things via computer which is a great help. Newer contests we have added in recent years: bowling pin decoration, rock painting, recycled junk art, and Facebook photo contest. A few years ago, we added line dancing thanks to the Oley FFA.”
The Fair boasts 5,700 exhibitors with the most popular being “Farmer for a Day.” The most popular contest is photography with more than 1,000 entries.
“The fair was originally started to bring the community together after the war. The fair’s goal is to promote agriculture within the community,” said Stup.
Oley Valley FFA’s fair stand ‘Farmer for a Day’ is “Teaching kids about agriculture” explained Erin Readinger, 17, as she cautioned little ones to be gentle while they were petting a newborn Pekin Duckling. As well as seeing and petting the newly hatched ducklings, the FFA students showed kids how to milk cows, harvest eggs and potatoes, pick apples.
Line Dancing was a hit on Friday night. DJ Chicken Nugget (Ken Bungarz) of Chickenman Productions had a huge crowd up and dancing to songs like “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert, “Whose bed have your boots been under?” by Shania Twain, and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” by John Michael Montgomery.
This year’s committee chose “Sweet Treats, Good Eats…Only at the Oley Fair!” as this year’s fair theme.
“We have really kept with being an old fashioned fair, but continue to add new things to be relevant and a wonderful time for any age,” said Stup. “We are a fair that does not have food vendors. All of our food is made by volunteers.”
Julianna Stutzman, 5, of Oley said her favorite part of the fair is the rides.
Five-year-old Paige Crognale’s favorite part of the fair? “Everything.”
Jordyn Jarrette, 14, of Exeter attended the fair for her first time, “It was a fun new experience with my best friend (Lena Brown).”
Lena Brown, 14, of Exeter explained, “It’s Jordyn’s first time (attending Oley Valley Fair) and I’ve been coming for years, but we both agree that we enjoy the rides the best.”
Brown and her entire family have participated in several fair contests over the years including Photography, Best Squash and Sunflower.
“My sunflower was huge,” explained Kristy Brown, Lena’s mother. “It was over 11 feet tall, barely fit in my minivan dash to trunk and it didn’t even place in the competition.”
Sometimes size matters with Fair entries, Craig Gardecki’s 1,477 pound pumpkin broke the previous Oley Fair largest pumpkin record held by Terry Lash’s 2015 1,233 pound entry.
The fair revealed a new mascot this year - Dutchie, a large overalled cow. Dutchie’s name was revealed at the Opening Ceremony, Thursday, Sept. 19.
Next year’s fair is scheduled for Sept. 17, 18, and 19, 2020.