Harford Fair draws to a close

For 17-year-old Andrea Beeman, this week has been like a fairytale come true.

The Mountain View senior won the Harford Fair Queen Contest Monday night, and from that perch got to see things all week long she hadn’t previously imagined.
Thursday night, for instance, she got to get up close and personal with country music artist John Michael Montgomery. She also got to show her first cow with instructions from a 5-year-old, and on Saturday afternoon discovered she may have a talent for calling turkeys.
The 153rd Harford Fair has been a “great time for me and I’ve been having lots of fun,” Beeman said while breaking from dishing up ice cream, right after taking honorable mention in the turkey calling contest.
While Beeman may have had a great week getting to know visitors to the fair, Carol Rafferty of Montrose had a fantastic week showing off her baked goods and needlecraft.
The Price Chopper clerk got 10 blue ribbons for her baked goods (including blueberry, cherry, rhubarb, lemon and pumpkin pies and angel food and lemon chiffon cakes) and eight for her needlework including a ‘Best in Show’ for her own specially designed crocheted afghan.
Now 69, Rafferty said she has been baking since she was nine and is looking forward to retirement in October so she can really show Fair visitors what she’s capable of next time around.
This year’s installment of the Fair was much better in the weather department than last year, and long-time fair director Ken Adams said that Monday was “a banner day” for attendance even though it rained.
It was the only appreciable rain for the week at the fair, and Adams said he expected attendance numbers for the 6-day fair which wrapped up Saturday night following a popular Demolition Derby would look favorable when they’re tallied up next week.
Adams was surprised Friday morning, when the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding showed up with a ‘Fair Ambassador’ commendation for Adams’ 52 years service as a fair director.
He had no idea the other 11 members of the Harford Fair board had nominated him for the state honor, but fellow director Cindy Reynolds said he was long overdue recognition.
“He has been a steady hand through the years, and we couldn’t have made it without him,” Reynolds said.
One of the newest additions to the fair this year is actually an old one, Adams said.
He and fair vice president Mark Pease and others have transformed the main parts of a building called ‘Founders Hall’ into a museum-like setting that celebrates the best of rural life.
He said the brand new displays of old household implements and farm machinery has resonated with the public who recognize things that may have been laying around their farm or home but really didn’t now what it was.
“The museum has been a real eye opener for people, especially those at least a generation younger than me,” Adams, now 82, said. “It gives people a new appreciation for things they may have taken for granted.”
Two other changes this year at the Harford Fair have been the addition of a new family friendly amusement ride vendor- Jim Houghton Enterprises- which the public seems to like, Reynolds said, along with the addition of a Farmer’s Market where people could just back up produce and sell it on the grounds.
Reynolds noted that people also seem to have found their appetites again for Fair food.
She said that last year some vendors complained that visitors weren’t spending much, and because of the rains also hampering attendance last year, they were getting doubly hammered.
Not so, this year, she said.
Richard Gregory of Dalton who with his wife Bonnie runs a concession called Mr. Rick’s Pretzels – which serves up pretzel sandwiches – said, “This is by far our best fair” of the six they participate in during the summer.
He noted only one slow day this week, “but that was good because we needed to catch our breath.”
We love it at Harford,” he said, “and for some reason they love us, too. It’s been a great week.”