Back in the early 1990’s, the Jefferson County Fair was renamed from “the Jefferson County Town and Country Fair” and was relocated from the hilltop near Sykesville to a rugged patch of farmland in Pine Creek Township just northeast of Brookville. A lot of history moved along with the name, and a lot of us who had worked diligently to make the fair a success in its first life at Sykesville, moved to Brookville for our home away from home, too.
There was a stage built on some sort of house-trailer frame that had often been utilized for entertainers to perform on the middle of the track in front of a small set of bleachers at Sykesville. Since that stage was still on a frame with tires underneath, it was pulled across the county to the new home where it continued to be used as a stage under the bright summer sun throughout daytime hours. Along came a small, local country band under the leadership of Leona Allshouse of Brookville.
They chose a location under a small grove of trees above the road at about the center of the fairground and began to play their style of music for a small audience seated on benches or a variety of chairs, or they mostly just stood around. With little protection from heavy mid-July rain showers, the crowd might disperse during a performance or the whole event could be cancelled on a moment’s notice. With the coming fair season in mind as our goal, application was made to the State Fair Board for matching funds to build a 40’ x 64’pavilion (a picnic shelter style of structure) to be constructed in that same little grove of trees. The first 20’ on the west end of the building would be specialized as a stage with dressing rooms in the wings.
Each year has been unique as far as weather is concerned and a few years ago the whole program of the fair would have been disrupted because it rained just about every day. Not much of a problem for the fair because the entertainment was under the roof of the pavilion and so was the audience. A few people experienced wet feet when rain water ran across the floor of the building from outside but hardly anyone noticed. A new addition to the building this year has been named “The Queen’s Room” since it is planned to provide privacy to the candidates for the 2021 Royalty.
A whole class of past queens has taken on the organization for the new competition under the leadership of Lainey Reinard Fritz who was the fair queen back in 2004. Many of the girls have gone on to all sorts of titles following their time with the Jefferson County Fair. Although Mackenzie Bart was not eligible to run for queen on our stage after serving as our princess, due to a previous honor elsewhere, she did credit the Jefferson County Fair. She participated in the Miss America Pageant as Miss Ohio where she attended college. She always gave our fair credit for getting her started on track to become Miss America and on to a lifetime as a TV Weather Girl in various parts of the country.
This year’s emcee will be Danielle Kaiser Bonura, a Reynoldsville native who was our queen in 2006, who has now continued on to her current title as Mrs. Pennsylvania International. The royalty contests will begin on the afternoon of Sunday, July 18th immediately following the official opening program of the 2021 Fair. Rev. David K. Nagele, pastor of the Brockway Church of God and chaplain at Penn Highland Hospital in DuBois will deliver this year’s message to the people of Jefferson County along with song and tune on his guitar. He will be accompanied by his wife Ruth on vocals along with his son the Rev. David Nagele II on harmonica. The opening program will be at 1:30 Sunday.
The community stage is managed by the team known as “Dazzle U” in the entertainment world in the persons of “Karen and Mike Uplinger” from around Brookville. Their activities will continue each afternoon and evening with local bands daily; Bingo on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. to benefit the Jefferson County Relay for Life, and fill-ins with recorded music and karaoke at other times. Check the fair’s website and facebook page to see who is scheduled and what times.
Of special note for me will be the returning acts out of the past years: Samantha Sears on Thursday at 6 p.m.; Brockway’s vocal group “the Village Voices” on Friday at 6 followed by Ray Lantz at 8:30; and the long-awaited return of “Day Tripper” on Saturday at 7. This is a quartet of my former math students from Brockway who love to play old-time “Beatle Music” like it was meant to be played. Check it out! You will find Rich Delia, his sons Rick and Bobby (Muggs), and good buddy Farmer Jimmie Wingard.
The Community Stage has always held special meaning to my wife and me. Partly because she was usually involved with the music especially when she picked up her accordion to join in. We were always involved in the set up and actually in the planning, designing, and finding the funding to make the construction of the stage a reality. Some of the fair board members even call the place “The Grant Stage” because a few years ago they put our names in a prominent location across the front of the building for the whole world to see.