Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All the County is a Fair in Lancaster

Harvest time is here – bright pumpkins dot the rolling hills, fields of mums stretch through the farmland. Farmers are busy cutting down corn, drying tobacco, and bringing in the last of the tomato crops.

There’s a busy-ness as a touch of fall starts to turn the leaves just a bit…you can feel it in the early morning mist…things are changing. This is a time of celebration, and Lancaster County sure knows how to party. There’s a change in the air….a distinct aroma….could that be….funnel cakes?

From one end of the county to the other, Lancaster Countians have Fair Fever. State routes are closed for days at a time, streets are jammed with vendors selling every imaginable kind of greasy food, hawkers entice you to try your hand at games of chance, and midway rides thrill the young. Kids get off from school, every non-profit organization is involved in some way, and you’ll make it to your appointments only if you plan a little extra time for detours.

Inn guests have long enjoyed these fairs, with their vast array of contests – from scarecrow judging to cake decorating competitions. Guests can sense the strong community support here. They’re impressed by all the parades – babies in the morning, pets in the afternoon and at night the Homecoming Queens, dozens of marching bands from around the state, and local businesses transforming tractor/trailers into floats.

Guests are also surprised and delighted by the skills demonstrated in the apple balancing race and the water-balloon throwing contest. (These may not be listed on anyone’s resume, but they sure make for good entertainment. And most of it is free – from the musical groups to the local radio broadcasts.)

All of this is impressive, to be sure. But what my guests comment about most are the chairs.
Yep, just ordinary lawn chairs.
People put them out on the sidewalk to reserve a “spot” as early as noon on the Sunday before the Thursday parades. Kids walk to bus-stops and ride their bikes by them. No one moves them or would dream of stealing one, for this is a long and respected tradition. Welcome to small-town America at its best – with the respect of another’s property and your neighbor’s right to claim a good seat.
So, if you are planning a trip to Lancaster this September or October, pack your chairs and, you too, can get a good spot to see the parades and enjoy the fairs. It may be your last chance to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of late summer.

For a listing of fairs, schedules, and directions see


primnproper said...

I have lived in Lancaster County all of my life and have enjoyed many fairs. It was only after reading your article that I realized how lucky I am to live in this great area with so much community spirit. We tend to take small town life for granted and sometimes don't appreciate what it has to offer. My chairs are placed and I'm ready. See ya at the Fair.

Jan Garrabrandt said...

Thank you - what a lovely compliment. Have fun - and look for the Terre Hill Days Float in the New Holland Parade.