Continuing the Grange Fair Tradition

Continuing the Grange Fair Tradition

The 140th Anniversary of the Centre County Grange Fair is underway.
CENTRE HALL, CENTRE COUNTY -- The 140th anniversary of the Centre County Grange Fair is underway. For some fairgoers, camping in the pop-up tent village is a tradition.

One thousand tents line the rows at the fair. Some of them are for show and decorated for a contest - with themes like Frozen and the Wizard of Oz - others are homey, like Chris Dobson's which has two beds, a couch, dresser, mini-fridge and microwave.

"We're going to be here for 8 days," says Dobson, who has been attending the Grange Fair since he was 7 or 8.  "My wife and daughter are staying here every night, so might as well be comfortable."

For some people, coming to the Grange Fair every year is like coming home.

Susan Smith is one of those people. This is her 71st Grange Fair.

"This has stayed in our family," says Smith about her tent. "This was my dad's tent and next door was my Grandmom's tent so we tented side-by-side."

Smith grandfather was the first Granger in the family. Smith says he lived in Spring Creek and would walk cattle over the mountain to show them at the fair.

She says the biggest thing for people within the encampment is passing it along to the next generation.

"You look back at your neighbors and you think, 'Oh,well, I knew three generations ago with them'," says Smith.

As time goes on and more generations keep coming back, the fair grows.

"It's fun to come back and see the changes and see how your neighbors are," says Smith.  "They say bigger is better but I'm not sure about that when it comes to the fair."

When the time comes for Smith to pass her tent on, the next generation is waiting and ready to continue this tradition.

"I'm really thankful that I have a great spot here in the tenting sections," says Reba Smith, Susan's 17-year-old granddaughter who attended her first fair when she was only 5 days old.  "It's really going to be something I want to keep for the rest of my life and pass on to my kids someday."
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