Carnival rides, games to return to Derry Township Agricultural Fair

| Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 5:26 p.m.

The Derry Township Agricultural Fair will feature more of a carnival atmosphere this summer with organizers enlisting a Florida company to provide rides and games at the seven-day festival, which will begin on Sunday.

“We have the carnival coming back. That is the biggest thing,” said fair committee President Missy Monticue, who noted it's been about five years since the fair included a carnival. “We tried our best to listen to everybody, and we finally had it within our budget to be able to afford a carnival.”

The company will bring about a dozen rides and games to the fairgrounds on Route 982 in New Derry this year, Monticue said, “plus we do have other people coming with games, too, as well as the company that brings the bungee jump.”

Admission to the fair will start at 4 p.m. each day and will cost $3 per person, with children 4 and younger admitted for free. Senior citizens will receive $1 off admission on July 16, and anyone donating a nonperishable food item to the Westmoreland County Food Bank on July 17 will be eligible for an admission discounted by $1. Uniformed members of the armed forces will be admitted at no charge.

The first day of the fair will feature an open horse show and the dog show, which Monticue said was a big hit last year, followed by the opening ceremonies at 4 p.m.

“We've really been trying to listen to all the suggestions and criticism as best we could,” she said. “We're hoping that we have pleased everybody this year. We definitely are still open to more suggestions, and we welcome the constructive criticism as well. There's always room for improvement. We're just hoping everybody can come out and enjoy and have fun, and we're hoping for a really good year this year.”

A few changes have been made to the Beautiful Baby Contest and the Quad Rodeo this year.

The Beautiful Baby Contest involved parents bringing their children on the day of the event and often ended with hot and cranky kids by the time awards were presented, Monticue said. This year parents submitted photos and information about their children to allow fairgoers to vote for their favorites via donations throughout the fair's duration.

The Quad Rodeo has added classifications: a battery-powered class for youngsters and an adult class featuring side-by-side utility vehicles.

“A couple years ago, we had a mom and dad show up over there with a little battery-powered quad, not understanding exactly what we did,” Quad Rodeo organizer John Hebenthal said. “I looked at these people and said, ‘You know what? Why not?' So we sent this little boy out there, we let him do his thing, we gave him a trophy, and he went away happy. This year we've decided to add a little battery-powered class for these little guys and girls.”

Hebenthal also has a surprise challenge that won't be revealed until the day of the event, which usually draws 35 to 50 riders.

“I'm reluctant to say what it is because I want it to be a big surprise for everybody, but it's going to be a show like they've never been involved with before,” Hebenthal said. “... It's going to be a lot of fun, and it's going to be open to everybody there. How many people are going to bite, I'm not sure; but I'm sure there's going to be a fair amount of them.”

While the carnival rides, contests, competitions, vendors and entertainment options will add to the fair's excitement, the agricultural exhibits and livestock shows remain the main attraction.

“We appreciate that it is here for our students and our community,” Derry Area School District Superintendent David Welling said of the fair. “Agriculture certainly is woven into what we do around here, and it does present an opportunity locally for our kids to demonstrate some of their hard work and efforts as it relates to their interests in vocational agriculture.”

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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