New Stanton's Graydon Long a fixture at Westmoreland Fair
Many visitors to the Westmoreland Fair have exchanged a word or two over the years with fair board director Graydon Long, who frequently can be found sitting on the bench near the fair office, keeping an eye on the comings and goings.
The Westmoreland Fair celebrated its 60th year as an educational and entertainment event this year, and Long, 85, of New Stanton, has been with it since its inception, working with the fair for all of those years and serving on the board for 57.
“There isn't anything that goes on that he doesn't know about,” Westmoreland Fair board president Craig Lash said. “He knows more about these grounds than anyone else.”
Long became involved with the fair when several local farmers and county members decided to try a large county wide agricultural event.
“The first couple years the fair was held at Idlewild Park,” Long said, adding that a large farm area in Mt. Pleasant Township was acquired to host the annual event. “The first year here there was a little barn with all the exhibits, then a big tent for all the commercial projects. We hooked a hay wagon to a tractor to take people from one to the other.”
Long said that he has since enjoyed watching the fair expand, adding more buildings and events.
“It's grown a lot, and I like to see that,” Long said.
And the fair has become generational for the family, as three generations are now actively part of it.
Two of Long's four children have followed in his footsteps, with son Phil Long of New Alexandria and daughter Deborah Long of New Stanton still being active members of the fair.
Phil's two daughters Erin, 13, and Jennifer, 10, are involved with 4-H, both showing steer annually with aunt Deborah helping the girls with their projects.
Phil and Deborah were active in 4-H when they were growing up on the family farm and feel that the program is good for youth to be involved in.
“4-H teaches them responsibility and leadership skills, and that's important,” Deborah Long said.
Graydon Long said that over the decades, he has been involved in many aspects of the fair, and for many years was in charge of the electrical work, but now leaves all that to the professionals.
“Years ago, most of the work done around here was done by volunteers,” Phil Long said. “All of that has pretty much changed.”
Graydon Long said he has enjoyed watching the many aspects of the annual event over the years and said that he thinks that people enjoy the fair for different reasons.
“I think that some people come for the entertainment and some people come for the animals,” Long said. “But if they come for the entertainment they end up enjoying the animals, and if they come for the animals they like the entertainment.”
Lash said that Long has been an impressive fixture at the fair, and he remembers Long's strict nature from when he himself was a child at the fair.
“We used to have water battles here, and that was when there wasn't any running water. It was brought in,” Lash said of his 4-H days at the fair. “We'd always look around to see where Graydon was. He was the enforcer.”
Joking and sharing a laugh is common among the employees and directors at the fair, but on a more serious note, Lash said that Long has been a vital part of the annual agricultural event.
“We'd be lost up here without him,” Lash said. “He knows everyone, and he knows everything. He knows where everything is, and he knows where everything has been.”
Long said that he plans to say an active part of the fair for as long as he is able.
“I've enjoyed my time here,” Long said. “It's been a lot of work, but I have enjoyed it.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.