Let’s see. . . Memorial Day Parade? Check! Fireworks over Hamlin Lake? Check! Fourth of July celebrations? Check! Hmmm, that leaves only one more summer-time milestone before the Labor Day weekend. . . That’s right, the McKean County Fair!
This year’s edition is the 116th time the fairgrounds in East Smethport will come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of a county fair. Those 116 years are by no means an unbroken streak, in fact there was a stretch of some dozen years after WWII when the fairgrounds fell dark and silent. The very first fair was held in the first week of October in 1905. In those days, fairs were built predominately around agriculture, so it was only sensible to hold them after the year’s harvests were in.
Why are county fairs so popular? Well, I have some thoughts about that. . . When you’re young and at the mercy of your parents, you literally vibrate with anticipation waiting for them to proclaim, “tomorrow we’re going to the fair!” As you get older and more independent, you can find your own way to the fairgrounds and you go, not just for the rides and games, but to “see and be seen”. As you age and begin having a family of your own, you enjoy the fair perhaps seeing it through the eyes of your kids and re-experiencing the excitement you once felt. Then, when you get older, you go primarily to visit, view the exhibits and especially, to partake of that unique cuisine known universally as “carnival food”.
No visit to the McKean County Fair would be complete without a stop at the Smethport Sports Boosters trailer. Manned solely by unpaid volunteers, the proceeds go towards the benefit of Smethport sports teams. In today’s economic climate, where school reimbursements from the state are not always a sure thing, sports boosters organizations help to offset the costs of fielding several teams in many different sports. The Boosters provide benefits that the school board is unable or unwilling to fund. Considering that it is extremely expensive to send an entire team and their support people to faraway athletic venues, any help that can be afforded the school district is not only appreciated, but necessary!
So stop in and sample some delicious carnival cuisine at the Smethport Sports Boosters booth and help support athletes throughout the school district while knowing that your dollars not only buy you a delicious meal but are used for a worthy cause.