Westmoreland Fair ‘the only place we have to showcase our products and educate people’
Pennsylvania’s top industry is still agriculture, but that’s little consolation to farmer and Westmoreland Fair President Craig Lash.
“This fair is the only place we have to showcase our products and educate people about where their food comes from,” Lash said.
Lash, the sixth generation of his family to go into farming, has watched as the monthly checks from milk sales at his Sewickley Township farm have gone from $8,000 to more like $800. At one time, 14 of 21 members on the Westmoreland Fair’s board of directors were dairy farmers. Now there are three, and it will be fewer once Lash sells his dairy herd this year.
“That’s why the fair is so important,” he said. “It’s not just in the dairy industry, it’s corn, soybeans, beef, all of it.”
This year marks the fair’s 65th anniversary. It will take place Aug. 16-24 at the county fairgrounds on Blue Ribbon Lane in Mt. Pleasant Township.
New for 2019 will be two shows on Aug. 19 by the Cincinnati Circus at the Peoples Grandstand Arena. “The Big Show Circus” will take the arena stage at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $3 to $5.
Another addition is a free phone app, available through the Apple store, which will put event information and more at attendees’ fingertips.
“The app was actually in place for last year’s fair, but it didn’t all come together until close to the actual fair itself,” said fairgrounds secretary Sarah Sphon. “So this year we’re really spearheading it and trying to get the word out so people can download it in advance and have fair information at their fingertips.”
When it comes to showcasing the region’s livestock, one important change will be a ban on exhibiting breeding hogs.
“There’s concern about African swine fever, which affects all ages of pig,” said fair entry secretary Joann Logan. “I think most fairs are taking that stance. We’ll still have market hogs on the grounds, but they’ll be processed after showing at the fair.”
Entry to the fair is $7, a price that hasn’t changed since 2002.
Lash said keeping the cost low helps get more people to the fair, where they can learn about the current state of Pennsylvania farming.
“You’ve got to have the rides and games to get kids in here,” he said. “And then we have to educate them about the importance of agriculture.”
For more on the fair, including a complete schedule of events, see WestmorelandFair.com.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .