SHORT HISTORY OF THE WEST LAMPETER COMMUNITY FAIR
This “Senior Citizen” of Lancaster County Fairs originally organized as an activity to display projects prepared by students attending what was called the West Lampeter Vocational School . The first West Lampeter Fair was held on October 22,23, and 24, 1924, at the West Lampeter High School in the village of Lampeter . The first premium book was on four sheets of paper compared to the present book of nearly 300 pages. The first Dairy Judging was held at the 1925 fair and in 1928 the Guernsey Calf Club and Swine Judging began.
The Fair was incorporated in 1929 and operated with 13 directors. In 1930 the Fair became officially “The Community Fair” at West Lampeter High School . State aid was received in 1931 and tents were erected to house dairy animals and commercial displays. “Moving Pictures”, county horseshoe pitching, and band concerts by the Lampeter Fire Company Band were held in 1932. In 1935 the number of directors increased to 21. 1936 brought Baby Beef, pure breed livestock, commercial tomato exhibits and athletic events. By 1940 there were 31 directors, a 20 mule team show, and a community play. In 1945 the board of directors increased to its present number of 45. The land presently used as the Community Grounds was purchased in 1948 and first used for the 1949 fair.
The years between 1949 and 1974 of the West Lampeter Community Fair were characterized by growth and expansion of program and facilities. The exhibit hall, which is no longer in existence, was used extensively. The school was also used and the Community Grounds became an area for expanding the program. The Western Horse Show was started in 1952. The Livestock Queen Contest (presently known as the Fair Queen Contest) was started in 1958. The Baby Parade was started in 1973 by the Willow Street Woman’s Club. In 1974 a new fire house was built. For a period of time the basement of the fire house and the West Lampeter High School were used for exhibits. Presently the firehouse is used to serve daily lunches and dinners during Fair time.
Between 1975 and 1999 the Open Floor Pavilion, Pole Barn Sales Arena and Metal Display Pavilion were constructed which provided greater covered space for the Fair program. A new lighting system was installed. The expansion of the Yesterdays Farm Equipment, Antique Tractors, Grandpap and Grandma exhibits have added much to the Fair program. The commercial exhibits have increased to the point that four tents are now needed.
The addition of the Youth Encouragement Awards have encouraged youth of the community to exhibit many entries. The addition of bleachers at the exhibit ring provided a welcome convenience for the spectators at the many events held in the show ring. A purchase of 16 acres of land adjacent to the present Fairgrounds has allowed more convenient parking and room for possible expansion of Fair activities. One of the most popular events for young people is the greased pig catching contest which usually draws more than 500 youngsters from the surrounding community.
The Sunday evening before the Fair a Community Hymn Sing is held with local churches facilitating the event. As evidenced by its history the present Fair Directors and Fair Department Committee Personnel comprise a unique blend of farmers, business persons and public spirited citizens who value community service to provide the community with an agricultural and educational fair.
The 3 day event during the last full week of September provides friendly competition among neighbors and a wholesome educational atmosphere for all ages. The Fair was proud to have its 2001 fair Queen elected to represent the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs for 2002. The 45 directors anticipate many more years of providing a quality Fair, one which serves to connect the many parts of the community to one another in an atmosphere of thankfulness for the many blessings which have been provided to us.