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Governor enjoys time at Big Butler Fair

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Rick Wills | Tribune-Review
Gov. Tom Corbett visits the Big Butler Fair's petting zoo on July 3, 2013, with Teagen Rowland, Little Miss Pennsylvania Pre-Teen, standing at the fence with him. Looking on is Carrie Rugh, a Big Butler Fair ambassador.

With liquor store privatization, pension reform and a major transportation bill all sidelined at the end of this year's legislative session, Gov. Tom Corbett might have plenty to be unhappy about.

Yet just days after signing a $28.4 billion budget, the governor was in a cheerful mood at the Big Butler Fair.

“If you can't have a good time here, you really need to be examined,” Corbett said after a walk through the fair's petting zoo, where he seemed most attracted to the ducks on display.

He asked his wife, Susan Corbett, if she had ever petted a duck. She seemed less enthused.

Chatting with a young girl, Corbett asked her if she had ever read “Make Way For Ducklings,” a classic 1941 children's book by Robert McCloskey that tells the story of a pair of mallard ducks who decide to raise their family on an island in the lagoon in the Boston Public Garden.

The girl, who knew the book, smiled when the governor mentioned it.

The governor, who arrived later than scheduled, rode to various exhibits in a golf cart and stayed at the fair for about an hour.

Billy Pittman, an aide for Corbett's re-election campaign, said the visit to the fair was one of the governor's first outings outside Harrisburg following passage of the budget, where for weeks he'd been involved in negotiations on the spending plan.

“He's been holed up and working hard. That's why he's having a good time here,” Pittman said.

Corbett, who lives in Shaler, said he has been to the fair many times.

“It's the biggest fair in the area and is just a trip up Route 8 for us,” he said.

Ben Roenigk, the fair's vice president, said the Big Butler Fair is one of the three biggest in the state and is often a draw for politicians. Former Gov. Ed Rendell visited during his second term, Roenigk said.

“We probably get a governor visiting here every two or three years. Gov. Corbett seemed to enjoy himself. There was very little in terms the political stuff or campaigning during his visit,” Roenigk said.

The fair had good attendance this year, with about 100,000 fair-goers.

“We beat last year's attendance. The weather was much hotter then,” Roenigk said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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