90th Unionville Fair: a celebration of community

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90 years of tradition continues at Unionville Community Fair and Farm Show

By Karen Cresta, Correspondent, The Times

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From the food, the contests, the displays and booths from various local organization, the 90th version of The Unionville Community Fair and Farm Show may have been the biggest and best ever.

EAST MARLBOROUGH – “Treasure the Memories” was the theme for this year’s Unionville Community Fair and Farm Show held this past weekend at the fairgrounds behind Landhope Farms at the intersection of routes 926 and 82.  Landhope Farms sponsored and hosted the three day event.  Celebrating its 90th year, the fair continued on with its traditional contests and exhibits. The Fair Queen and Fair Princess were crowned, rodeos were won and lost, sweet treats were baked and judged, pumpkins were carved, scarecrows were stuffed, songs were lip synched, the mechanical bull was challenged, horses, llamas and cattle were shown, pets were dressed up, cows were milked, the $1,000 cow “pie” was dropped – and memories were treasured – as exhibitors and contestants were awarded.

Along with having fun, the Unionville Community Fair Executive Board was hopeful that attendees would learn a lesson about the importance of agriculture while supporting the Chester County Food Bank, The Barn at Springbrook Farm, local fire companies (Po-Mar-Lin and Longwood), and the Unionville High School Community Scholarship Organization. Fair organizers hoped to promote the top two industries in Pennsylvania – agriculture and tourism.

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The Fair Queen’s court won the lip syncing contest. From left, Shannon White, princess, Carly Rechenberg, queen, Ellen Dunbar, Queen alternate, Sarah Taylor, princess alternate.

Organizers promoted the fair as bringing agriculture closer to urbanized areas and educating the next generation about it.  Pumpkin, tomato, basil and lettuce seeds were distributed to the elementary and middle schools in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) to get students interested in agricultural possibilities. Kids of all ages learned about aspects of agriculture and could visit the Mobile Agricultural Education Lab for hands-on lessons at twelve different stations.

The fair was preluded by the pageant held at Unionville Elementary on Sept. 23.  The Fair Queen, Carly Rechenberg, and Fair Princess, Shannon White, were presented with their crowns as were their alternates, Ellen Dunbar and Sarah Taylor.  They spent the three days during the fair participating in and facilitating many of the events.  Rechenberg will compete in the State Fair Queen pageant in Jan. 2015.

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The Chamberlain family won the Family Award. From left, Gallo from the musical duo, Dan and Gallo, presented award, fair president Danielle, Youth Award winner, Lauren, Chris, and Drew.

Next up was the Sixth annual Denim and Diamonds benefit and auction.  Partygoers got dressed in their best denim on Oct. 2 in the Red Barn on the fairgrounds and got to preview the exhibits and ribbon winners while enjoying music by Chris D’Esposito, food by Triple Fresh and wine and beer by local artisans.

Friday morning, as the fairgrounds officially opened, fourth graders arrived from UCFSD.  They searched for their carved pumpkins that remained at the fairgrounds to glow through the night.  They visited a storytelling demonstration by national storyteller and author of the year by PA School Librarians Association, Robin Moore.  They also listened to the Junk Rock Band with its message about recycling, visited the Giggles and Grins tent, llama and alpaca tent, cattle tent and exhibit barn.

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Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Superintendent of Schools John Sanville, left, and the individual cow milking champ, Earl Wickersham.

The exhibit barn was prepared days in advanced.  It was emptied of all farm equipment, power washed and set up for the Denim and Diamonds benefit then changed up to house the hundreds of displays – from photography to pumpkins.  The fair had the largest display of community agricultural, handcrafts and arts in Chester County, according to the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs (PSACF).  Area gardeners displayed their best produce, herbs, plants and flowers. Commercial displays of mushrooms, fruits and flowers were abundant.  Don’t forget what started it all back in 1924 – corn. Displays of white corn, yellow corn and corn stalks, continued the tradition after 90 years.

The barn was loaded with apples of different shapes and sizes and with jellies, jams, preserves, conserves and marmalades. There was an abundance of apple pies, angel food cake, chocolate cookies, cakes and bars. If it could be something eaten, it most likely was in the exhibit barn.

On the topic of apples and eating, the 27th blue ribbon apple pie contest sponsored by Barnard’s Orchards, peeked much interest with fairgoers. The proud winners were Rebecca Barrett who took first place, Pam Paulsell, who took second and Allison Bennett who took third place.  According to a fairgoer, she wished the recipes were displayed so she could “take a shot at making the winning treats.”

Friday evening, the lip sync contest drew a crowd under the Yellow House tent. Sharon Parker, a Fair Executive Board member and retired Superintendent of of schools for the UCFSD, emceed the contest.

She stated, “Each year the fair has its own level of uniqueness but this year we’ve brought back some elements of the past, one of which is the Lip Sync contest. It was a great crowd and a wonderful event.”

Chris Trombetta, one of four judges, said, “The contest went well. They were very talented kids who put a lot of work into it.”  The queen’s court won overall best in show for their lip syncing to “Wannabe” by Spice Girls.

Talent was also showcased on Saturday at the Willowdale pro-rodeo.  According to organizers, it draws a crowd of about 2,000.  The rodeo was added to the fair in 2011 and has continued to delight spectators and the rodeo committee since it generates $15.00 per adult ticket.

Another of Saturday’s highlights was the cow milking contest.  The tent was filled with spectators as Earl Wickersham, co-owner of Marlboro Family Farm, took the title again by demonstrating his milking talents. Other contestants only got small amounts of milk to measure while Wichersham’s measuring cup overflowed much to the delight of the kids watching his measuring cup get refilled – twice.  Representatives from each elementary school in the UCFSD and their principals (newly appointed Chadds Ford Elementary’s principal, Shawn Dutkiewicz, was unable to attend) took their position at the back end of the cows and the crowd counted down to the end of the contest.  Hillendale Elementary remained the champ at the good milking hands of Julia Vaughn and Principal Clifford Beaver.  UCFSD superintendent, John Sanville, was on the grounds to congratulate the winners.

Speaking of cows, the last event on Sunday involved one.  Raven was “chosen” for cow pie bingo.  Gamblers took a chance that her “pie” would land on their space to win $1,000.00.  The winner had to wait for over an hour as Raven took her time to complete her business.  Gallo from the musical duo, Dan and Gallo, said that the girl was being a little too stubborn.  After much deliberation, the “big” winner got to collect.

The closing ceremonies were led by the fair’s new president, Danielle Chamberlain.  She announced that it was “truly a community event” and recognized the hard work of the volunteers and exhibitors before announcing the winners.  She stepped away from the mic so that she could personally accept the Family Award with her husband, Chris, and their two children, Drew and Lauren.  The Chamberlain family received the highest number of quality points and versatility with multiple entries in a variety of categories. The Youth Award stayed in the family as Lauren Chamberlain proudly accepted it.  This award was given to the individual with the highest number of quality points, provided the exhibitor won awards in six departments and no more than 50 percent of her points came from any one department, according to the fair’s website.  The Adult Award was again up for grabs in 2015 since no one met the criteria.

Once again at the mic, Chamberlain congratulated Vincent Sun, recipient of the David J. Whenery Award, who excelled in vegetable and specimen flowers.  Sharon Currie was the winner of the Robert G. Struble Award, who excelled in at least two categories of agriculture, education and conservation.

All first place winners in each exhibit are eligible to compete in Jan. 2015, at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg.  Contest winners get to “Treasure the Memories” made.  They also get bragging rights and the chance to keep their titles at next year’s Unionville Community Fair and Farm Show held the first weekend in Oct. 2015.

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