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Championship canned goods at the Crawford County Fair
Grand Champion Canned Goods, August 1999 Photo: Rhonda Nichols Barbish

Crawford County Fair

Held every August in Meadville, Pennsylvania, the Crawford County Fair is one of the largest agricultural venues east of the Mississippi River, and possibly the oldest county fair in Pennsylvania. September 25, 1946, marked the opening day of the first Crawford County Fair; over 31,000 people attended the four-day fair that first year. The 54th annual fair, held for eight days in August 1999, attracted 150,000 visitors. Primarily an agricultural fair located on 67 acres east of Meadville, the fairgrounds hold eight cattle barns and tents, two swine barns, two goat barns, fourteen horse barns and tents, one poultry barn, one rabbit barn, and a stall for a lama! Of course, fairs are not only about livestock, but about food! Typical fair fare for 1999 included: taffy, cotton candy, fudge, maple sugar candy, ice cream cones, lollipops, donuts, pies, french-fried potatoes and onion rings, hot dogs, chili dogs, hamburgers, barbequed chicken, sloppy joes, lemonade, and coffee. Not-so-typical offerings were ox roast, ostrich burgers, turkey legs, maple milkshakes, and cappuccino.

No interest or taste was left unsatisfied at the 1999 Crawford County Fair. Fair events included a number of tractor pulls, where spectators were seated in a new aluminum grandstand built in 1998, at a cost of $1.8 million. Judges rated maple syrup, canned goods, afghans and photographs in the home show buildings. There was a classic and antique car show and bee-keeping and livestock demonstrations. Miss Crawford County of 1999 was crowned; dairy cattle, rabbits, poultry, dairy goats, draft horses and saddle horses were judged, followed later in the week by a livestock auction. Country music star Vince Gill performed for a capacity crowd, and a "4-Star Homemaker" award was presented to a Meadville woman. The Budweiser Clydesdales paraded around the fairgrounds, and pro wrestlers, harness races, and a demolition derby provided more entertainment throughout the rest of fair week.

Materials documenting the August 1999 fair comprised an 11-page report; 30 8 x 10 color photographs and accompanying descriptions; a program, cardboard promotional poster, and listing of the businesses renting concession spaces; and a videotape of the fair. Also included was a book, A Harvest of History, the history of the Crawford County Fair.

Originally submitted by: Phil English, Representative (21st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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