Jacktown Fair off to a good start

July 15, 2014
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Tabatha Schiller, left, is crowned 2014 Miss Jacktown Fair Queen by last year’s queen, Michaela Hildreth. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Members of the New Freeport T-Ball teams participate in this year’s Jacktown Fair parade. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
The West Greene Marching Band enters the fairgrounds during Tuesday’s Jacktown Fair Parade. Order a Print
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Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
Phillip Prevost of New Freeport and his horse-drawn covered wagon took first place in the float-decorating contest at the Jacktown Fair Tuesday. Order a Print

JACKTOWN – A nice summer evening with comfortable temperatures and not a rain cloud in sight helped make a good start for the 149th Jacktown Fair.

People lined the main street of the small hilltop town to take in the floats, antique cars and fire trucks that formed the parade lineup.

John Thompson of Graysville and his family were among those sitting comfortably waiting for the parade to start.

“I’ve watched the parade every year and I’ll be 72 at the end of July,” he said. Thompson said he’s been coming to Jacktown, “ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper.”

Thompson said he enjoys seeing the old cars and floats in the parade and always attends the fair Thursday, senior citizens day, to catch up with old friends.

Another parade watcher, Taishea Ross of Aleppo, also is a regular to the parade. “I come up about every year,” she said. “It’s tradition, it’s what you do.”

Ross said she has always come to the fair even when she was young and her family moved to Washington. Why? “It’s the people, the small-town feel, everybody coming together for the community.”

This year, 95 units participated in the parade, which started in Wind Ridge and wound its way down to the gates of the fairgrounds. This year, Mary Jane Kent, who has been involved with the fair for many years and never missed one, served as grand marshal.

“I thought the parade went really well,” said Marcia Sonneborn, parade chairman. “I was surprised by all the people lining the street. There were more than I’ve seen in a while,” she said. But then again, the weather Tuesday evening was beautiful. “You couldn’t ask for a better night.”

The fairgrounds grew lively as the evening passed. The midway was crowded with people, playing games, riding rides or just standing around eating and talking.

“It looks like we have a pretty good crowd,” said Walter “Buck” Burns, president of the Richhill Agricultural Society, which sponsors the fair. He, also, spoke of the beautiful weather, which he said he hoped would remain with the fair the rest of the week.

Following the parade, a ceremony was held at the upper grandstand to crown the 2014 Miss Jacktown Fair Queen. This year, two contestants were competing for the title.

The winner was Tabatha Schiller, 18, a 2014 graduate of West Greene High School and the daughter of Frank Vorhes and Suzette Schiller of Wind Ridge.

A special presentation also was made to name Burns the 2014 Outstanding Fair Ambassador for his many contributions to the fair.

Burns, who has served as fair board president the last 27 years, was presented with a citation by Boots Hetherington, special adviser to the governor for agriculture.

Citations were also presented to Burns by state Sen. Tim Solobay and state Rep. Pam Snyder.

This year, the first-place float in the parade was a horse-drawn wagon driven by Philip Prevost of New Freeport. Second place went to the MW Farms of Wind Ridge; third place to the West Greene FFA; and fourth place to Unity Presbyterian Church.

The winners of the house decorating contest were Mary Jane Kent, first place; Ryan and Clarissa Tharp, second place; and Joyce Helphenstine, third place.

The winners of several baking contests also were announced Tuesday.

Megan Gottschalk of Prosperity won the Pennsylvania Preferred Chocolate Cookie, Brownie or Bar Baking Contest, youth division; Carrie Hawk of East Millsboro won the Pennsylvania Preferred Chocolate Cake Baking Contest; and Kayla Patton of Graysville won the Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest.

Admission to the fairgrounds is free. Anyone wishing to ride the rides or attend grandstand events must purchase tickets

Tonight is Youth Night, and all children 14 and younger are permitted to ride the carnival rides for free, courtesy of First Federal Savings and Loan of Greene County.

A food eating contest will be held at 7 p.m. on the midway stage. At the upper grandstand, starting at 8 p.m., will be the first round of the Jacktown Fair Idol Contest.

A Tuff Truck contest will be held at 8 p.m. at the lower grandstand.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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