History of the Beaver Community Fair
The First 50 Years
By Margie Krebs and Russell Weller for the 50th Anniversary of the Beaver Community Fair
1928 - 1978
The Beaver Community Fair was first sponsored by Vocational Agriculture and Home Economics Departments of Beaver Vocational High School. The purposes of the fair were to: provide an opportunity to exhibit agricultural products and Vo-Ag and Home Economics projects, promote greater interest in agriculture for school and community, and encourage the production of better crops and a higher standard of rural life. This was originally a school idea and project, but with wider opportunities the fair soon developed into a community activity.
The first Beaver Fair was announced to the pupils of the grade schools of Beaver Springs and Beavertown on Wed., Oct. 9, 1929, by the Beaver Vocational High School Principal, Ira G. Sanders, who with Mr. Arthur Townsend, Vocational Agriculture teacher and Miss Hazel Crist, Home Economics teacher, had developed the plans. The principal of the high school, Vocational Agriculture teacher and Home Economics teachers were responsible for the plans and for carrying them out until 1940 when the organization was changed. A list of school administrators, teachers and the later officers after the charter was granted is appended.
Ira G. Sanders, in a surprising announcement to the pupils, directed them to bring all kinds of fruit and vegetable exhibits the next day, Thursday, Oct. 10. The amounts and numbers for the various exhibits were not stated, nor were the matters of quality and type and method of exhibition mentioned, leaving much to the imagination. Further urging on the part of the teachers brought forth boxes, baskets, and bags of many different exhibits of the orchard, field, and garden. Thursday evening after school this material was transported to the Beaver Vocational High School, where in the gymnasium, booths and other spaces for exhibitions had been arranged for the various grade school rooms and sections or organizations of the high school pupils.
In arranging the exhibits many interesting acts of ingenuity had to be used. Some overripe tomatoes of one exhibit were quickly surrounded and covered by others of better quality. The judges, being inexperienced and not too interested in investigating, were misled and that school booth was given a First Prize ribbon. Regardless of some few instances of this kind, the fair as a whole was a decided success on Fri., Oct. 11, 1929. As time went on, more definite requirements were made for the more complicated exhibits and more competent, trained and experienced judges were obtained for the work of the fair.
In a few years arrangements were made for exhibits by adult patrons of the schools and livestock exhibits were set up out of doors. Poultry, rabbits, etc. were placed in the shop and Vocational Agriculture rooms. The time of the fair was soon changed from one day on Friday only, to Friday and Saturday, then from two to three days, later to four days, and finally to five days in 1971. Rented tents were erected for the livestock and farm crop exhibits on the athletic field. As further added attractions, athletic events and contests between various grades, schools, or adult groups were instituted. Transportation of pupils by bus was provided for pupils from surrounding schools and districts. Various concessions, eating stands, games, and others were gradually added. Some of these were conducted by school classes or organizations, others by outside personnel.
Stage productions, one act plays, and local talent shows were added and later outdoor acts were provided on an outdoor stage. Outstanding along this line was the Kiwanis Home Talent Program. In September 1950 the Beaver Community Fair Association sponsored the first Miss Susquehanna Valley Beauty Contest, a local counterpart of the Miss America Contest. The merger of the schools in 1955 into the West Snyder County School District caused the Pageant to be transferred to Middleburg for one year after which it was held separately at the West Snyder High School until discontinued after the 1965 pageant.
The Fair’s future was in doubt by the the late 1930’s. Finances were strained as the purchase of ribbons, premiums, tent rentals, erection of electrical wiring, etc., became an ever larger expense as the fair grew and the Beaver Vocational High School students seemed unable to raise the necessary funds from concession receipts. They were thinking seriously of discontinuing the fair. When this was made known to the patrons, several public meetings were held to see what could be done. Plans were formulated for the organization of the Beaver Community Fair Association. The name Beaver Community Fair was duly registered on September 20, 1940, as a proposed nonprofit corporation in accordance with the Nonprofit Corporation Law, approved May 5, 1933. The following committee of residents was appointed to present Articles of Incorporation for the Beaver Community Fair to the Court of Common Pleas of Snyder County, Pennsylvania: J.B. Rine, Beavertown, PA; E.T. Lepley, Beaver Springs, PA; William A. Markley, Beaver Springs, PA; Arthur M. Felker, Beaver Springs, PA; J.W. Herman, Beaver Springs, PA; O.C. Menocher, Beavertown, PA; and B. Paul Ross, Beaver Springs, PA.
A Constitution and By-Laws of the Beaver Community Fair Association was drafted and presented to the incorporators on the 7th day of August, 1941, by the following committee: B. Paul Ross, Arthur M. Felker, William A. Markley, J.A. Wagner, C.M. Bailey, E.T. Lepley, Kenneth H. Boyer, and J.B. Rine.
The Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws, and the Application for Charter were presented to the Court of Common Pleas of Snyder County. All other legal requirements were met and Judge Curtis C. Lesher approved the Decree of Incorporation dated January 6, 1941, as Act Number 41 in the February, 1941, Term of Court.
The earliest recorded officers of the Beaver Community Fair Association, Inc., were: Arthur M. Felker, President, B. Paul Ross, Treasurer; and Kenneth H. Boyer, Secretary. A list of later officers is appended.
The organization as a Community Fair made possible the receipt of funds by appropriation and from the Pennsylvania State Fair Fund as well as from memberships and various other sources, some of which were listed above and had not been possible previously. However, before these funds were available other obstacles arose. The fair was originally held at the Beaver Vocational High School, now Beaver Adams Elementary School. The period from 1955 to 1957 was filled with uncertainty as to the future of the fair but it was continued at the original site. The former high school building, having been remodeled, was no longer suitable, and it was not considered advisable to use the new West Snyder High School building for the purpose of a site for the fair. After some uncertainty and inaction during 1955 and 1956 ideas began to develop in 1957. It was proposed and agreed to by the West Snyder School Board to lease a triangular plot of about 3½ acres of woodland - the northern part of the present fair grounds - for this purpose. Before the new site could be used, the land needed to be cleared of trees, stones removed, the surface leveling and buildings had to be erected. All these things were to be accomplished without any financial resources at the onset.
Considering the conduct of the Fair as it had been, it was realized that a sizeable amount could be saved if permanent buildings, wiring, etc. were established. The lumber obtained from the land would be useable and would represent a saving. A Steering Committee for fund raising was appointed and worked on various projects already mentioned and others later.
A Planning Committee was appointed in late 1956 to investigate the possibilities in the situation. The committee estimated the costs of clearing and grading plus four buildings would cost approximately $15,000. The prospect seemed very grim, but perseverance won. An agreement and lease was arranged with the school board. Later estimates were presented for pole type buildings – six could be built for $10,000 - with more useable space than by the first plan.
In March 1958, the citizens of Spring Township decided to erect a building about 40’ x 100’ as a War Memorial for World War Veterans. A special fund raising committee was appointed which solicited over $3,300 by the end of 1958. On June 3, 1958, the bid of Carl Thomas, Beavertown, PA, was accepted for grading and clearing stumps and stones. He hoped to finish by July 15th. Two months to go and still no buildings! Materials for two buildings were ordered - one 60’ x 105’ and one 30’ x 105’ on June 26th.
On July 29th the Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church School, Troxelville, agreed to erect a building to be used as an eating stand. Water lines needed to be placed as well as electric service lines.
A stage for outdoor programs was needed. The elementary schools of the West Snyder Joint School district had it constructed. They were really busy days but when the thirtieth annual fair date, Sept. 17-20, 1958, arrived, the buildings and work were all completed.
The debt was liquidated and two more buildings, one 40’ x 105’ and the second 22’ by 30’ were added in 1959. A cattle wash area was installed later.
The stage’s plank floor warped and was replaced with a concrete floor in 1960. The dressing rooms and roof were added to the stage in 1966. The same year asphalt floors were placed in the commercial exhibit buildings. A new central office and electrical switch center was added in 1957. The Rotary Club stand was erected north of the office in 1958. During this time fair entrants came from a wider area, more exhibits were entered and more premiums were being paid.
The period from 1968 to 1978 was both trying and rewarding as the fair grew at a rapid pace. The number of exhibitors and exhibits increased each year. In 1968 there were 2,577 exhibits displayed by 643 exhibitors. In 1977 there were 6,337 exhibits displayed by 1,416 exhibitors. This increase in exhibits also increased the premiums paid during the same period of time. In 1968 the total premium paid was $4,614 while in 1977 premiums were $14,020.
The continued growth of the fair created a need for additional building space. An entry room was added to the southeast side of the Memorial Building. Flush toilets were added in the same general area.
A concrete floor was installed in the dairy barn by Brooks End and Par-Kay Park Farms (Reno Thomas and Park Thomas of Beavertown) in 1970. Food concession stands – one two-bay and one three-bay stands - were built in 1970-71 to house West Snyder High School’s 7th through 11th grade classes’ eating stands. The demand for additional fair exhibit space and commercial exhibits became so great that a free-span 60’ x 100’ concrete block building was erected in 1972. A 44' x 105’ steel building to be used for fair exhibits was constructed at a cost of $32,682 about 1976. The addition of this building brought the total building program to $94,682.
None of these things could have been accomplished without the gracious support of the citizens of the community. Not only did they give generously in financial donations, but also in donations of materials and labor.
The West Snyder Young Farmers’ Association came to the aid of the Fair Association when they donated the labor necessary to cut all the timber trees from the fair’s present site, hauled the logs to the sawmill, hauled the finished lumber back to the fairground and stacked the lumber to be used which was later used in construction of the first buildings on the grounds.
Several years later, in the early 1960’s, William and Meriam Markley noted the need for additional parking space and donated a triangular tract about the size of the original plot and to the south of the original plot making the fairgrounds nearly a rectangular plot of about seven acres.
Many advances and improvements in agriculture and rural life have been made in this area during the past fifty years, and we feel that a large number have received their inspiration from ideas derived from the activities and exhibits of the fair. The community and school can be proud of what has been established, but there is much more that can be done for the benefit of both the schools and the community which the fair serves.
How long the fair continues to bloom will be determined by the people of the community, as the fair is a community project which is run totally by people who donate their time. This is a unique feature and most often misunderstood. Yes, as unbelievable as it seems, the total management and operation of the fair is done for free.
The green steel building was built in 1975. Eight acres of additional land was purchased from Carson Gill in 1988. The livestock arena (dairy barn) was built in 1994-95 and the tractor pull track was moved to its present location. The red steel commercial building replaced the pole building on the same site in 1996.
July 2016 began a new building project. The replacement of the sewing exhibit building. The white wooden structure was replaced with a modern pole type building. This project was completed for the 2016 fair. It now serves as a commercial exhibit building.
School Officials, Officers, Vo-Ag, and Home-Ec Teachers
Ira G. Sanders 1928 - 1930
J. Elmer Nagle 1930
Charles A. Felker 1930 - 1936
B. Paul Ross 1936 - 1941
Arthur Townsend 1928 - 1931
Nelson E. Witmer 1931 - 1934
Kenneth H. Boyer 1934 - 1938
J.P. Miles Storch 1938 - 1940
Omar C. Menocher 1940 - 1941
Hazel Crist 1928 - 1931
Marjorie Swigart 1929 - !933
Leona S. Felker 1931 - 1936
Lillian B. Spaid 1933 - 1934
Euphenia Strouss 1934 - 1936
Mrs. H. R. Sheely 1935 - 1938
Adele Forrest 1936 - 1937
Jean Miller Crossley 1938 - 1940
Jean Zarfoss Kline 1940 - 1941
School Officials, Officers, Vo-Ag, and Home-Ec Teachers
Incorporated January 6, 1941, as the Beaver Community Fair Association Inc.
Kenneth H. Boyer 1941 - 1946
Daniel Womer 1946 - 1948
H. Daniel Baylor 1948 - 1951
Andrew B. Stoner 1951 - 1952
Russell A. Weller 1954 - 1956
Russell E. Martz 1956 - 1959
Warren R. Dutrow 1959 - 1970
Carl Witmer 1961 - 1962
*John Kline 1962 - 1963
William Sheaffer 1966 - 1988
*Richard M. Snook 1977 - 1978
Timothy Weller 1978 - 1980
Ronald Weaner 1978 - 1981
*Michael Sanders 1995 - 1996
Stephen R. Kline 1970 - 2004
Cynthia Shaffer 1988 - 2005
B. Paul Ross 1940 - 1945
Marlin Shearer 1945 - 1954
Howard H. Master 1954 - 1959
Jean Zarfoss Kline1941 - 1942
Gladys Kock VanHorn 1942 - 1943
Sarah Charles 1943 - 1944
Irene Bottinger Benner 1944 - 1947
Jean Zarfoss Kline 1947 - 1948
Sarah Charles 1949 - 1952
Alice Wendell 1952 - 1957
Evelyn M. Heiser 1952 - 1957
Mary Y. Waha 1958 - 1959
Margaret J. Shuman 1959 - 1960
Margaret S. Ritchie 1959 - 1961
Lois Ann Gruenberg 1961 - 1962
*Mary Ann Tomasko 1981
Judith A. M. Havice 1962 - 1969
Carol Hoysock 1969 - 1970
Diana B. Kerstetter 1970 - 1976
Joy Haines 1977 - 2001
Louise Hummel 2002 - 2005
Officers of the Beaver Community Fair Association
Arthur M. Felker 1941 - 1952
Kenneth H. Boyer 1952 - 1956
Carmon E. Aumiller 1957 - 1958
Charles T. Frey 1959 -1960
Wilbur S. Benner 1961 - 1963
Joseph H. Hassinger 1964
David S. Bailey 1965
Charles W. King 1965 - 1980
Paul Woodling 1981 - 1982
Stephen R. Kline 1983 - 1988
Paul Woodling 1989
Nevin Zerby 1990 - 1994
Richard Shirey Sr. 1995 - 2006
Levi Aurand 2007 - present
B. Paul Ross 1941 - 1944
Roy C. Kline 1945 - 1954
Ira C. Gross 1955
Roy C. Klein 1955
William E. Kepner 1956 - 1961
Fred Krebs Jr. 1962 - 1980
John Aucker 1981 - 1992
Trent Erb 1993 - 2003
Robert Church 2003 - present
Kenneth H. Boyer 1941 - 1944
Ira Kline 1945 - 1947
Kenneth H. Boyer 1948 - 1952
Frank C. Gill 1953 - 1969
Warren R. Dutrow 1970 - 1978
Earl W. Lyter 1978 - 1982
Mary Ewing 1983 - 1991
Sheree Chesney 1992 - 1997
Carol Hoffman 1998 - 2001
Amanda Beachel 2002 - 2012
Ashley Hassinger 2013 - present
Beaver Community Fair Junior Fair Committee Formed - 2022
Chairperson - Courtney Ewing
Vice-Chairperson - Sam Hauck
Secretary - Colette Hoffman
Fair Board Representative - Jared Frantz