4-H – Farming at the Fair

4-H – Farming at the Fair

The Great Allentown Fair has been a Lehigh Valley tradition for nearly 165 years. Over time, it has meant the last blast of summer fun and entertainment for area residents, as well as tourists. It has games, novelty attractions, food vendors, and amusement rides. It has the big name concerts and the annual Labor Day Demolition Derby.

Each year, thousands of people attend the Great Allentown Fair. As they stroll down the midway deciding which ride to enjoy or what food to try next, are they even aware of the fair’s rich history in farm and agriculture?

“We are more than just plows and cows.”

The Great Allentown Fair is truly a celebration of the area’s agriculture. For most fair attendees, it is a chance to see a glimpse of life on the farm. In addition to many livestock areas, there is the full schedule of 4-H competitions, exhibits and special events.

“The last few years we have had 4-H members from Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Montgomery counties, as well as 4-Hers from New Jersey. 4-H members complete their projects by showcasing what they have learned at the local fairs – showing an animal in the fair, exhibiting a skirt they sewed, or showing a poster about their public speech,” says Kelly M. Weisner, the Lehigh County 4-H Youth Development Educator, The Great Allentown Fair.

4H14-H is a community of young people across the United States who engage in learning life skills, leadership, and citizenship. Head, Heart, Hands and Health are the four Hs in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs. “We are more than just plows and cows. We range from natural resources to science and engineering, and everything in between. However, we are one of the only youth programs offering animal or agriculture-based programs,” says Weisner.

In 4-H, adult volunteers lead traditional club programs and serve as mentors and board members. Teen volunteers serve as club officers, mentors and camp counselors. 4-H is offered in a variety of modes. “The most common are our traditional 4-H clubs. Lehigh County has 14 of these clubs. Many are project specific, such as livestock, veterinary science or horse. Others offer a variety of project areas like sewing, photography, wildlife and woodworking. In addition, we offer school enrichment programs like after school programming.”

There are over 1,900 Lehigh County 4-Hers. They meet at such locations as the Lehigh County Agricultural Center and the Seipstown Grange. Lehigh County 4-H celebrated its Centennial in 2016. It has participated at The Great Allentown Fair since 1919.

So many groups make up the Lehigh County 4-H. There is Equine, Dairy, Veterinary Science, Livestock (Beef/Swine/Sheep/Goat), Teen Council, and Seeing Eye Puppy. There also is Potato Judging, Neff’s Clovers, Clucking Companions (Poultry), and Kid Does (Diary Goat). Last but not least, there is Allentown’s Tropical Jungle, Lower Macungie Clovers, Knitting & Crocheting, and Sunshine for Autistic Teens.

The Lehigh County 4-H will have several attractions at The Great Allentown Fair. There are individual entries, the weeklong Lehigh County 4-H petting zoo, and the Tuesday evening 4-H seeing eye puppy demonstration. On Saturday afternoon is the Lehigh County 4-H livestock show and sale.

To become part of the 4-H, you can call 610.391.9840. Online, you can visit extension.psu.edu/4-h/counties/lehigh. The Lehigh Agricultural Center is located at 4184 Dorney Park Road, Room 104, in Allentown.

Fair Deals

According to Bonnie C. Brosious, Marketing Director for The Great Allentown Fair, there are so many “Fair Deals” for the 163rd year. Fair-goers can take advantage of special attractions that are included with admission. You can see Hansen’s Spectacular – a family thrill show with aerial acts over 30 feet high. Matt’s Family Jam, a modern day show band, offers free performances. There are Robinson’s Pig Paddling Porkers, which are pigs that can race and swim. You also can watch the High Diving Pirates of the Caribbean.

There are numerous admission discounts available during the fair. All gate admission benefits the mission of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society, the non-profit operator of the fair founded in 1852, to support agriculture. For more information on special deals on admission and rides, hours, and such, visit The Great Allentown Fair at allentownfairpa.org. You can phone at 610.433.7541. The Great Allentown Fair is located at 302 North 17th Street in Allentown.

Photos Courtesy of Allentown Fair

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