The end of July always means the annual Kimberton Community Fair will be returning. Known for its homemade donuts, a midway full of rides, games and contests, and large displays of agricultural and home arts exhibits, this northern Chester County tradition will again be entertaining and educating visitors for its 80th year. It prides itself on still being a family-oriented event that focuses on fun and wholesome entertainment that appeals to fairgoers of all ages.
The Kimberton Fair is one of the few remaining "free" fairs in the Commonwealth, charging no entry fee for any of its displays, special events or shows. The only collection taken is a free-will donation for parking. Average attendance for the entire week is approximately 30,000 visitors from Chester, Montgomery, Buck, Berks and Lancaster Counties. The Fairgrounds consist of a midway packed with over 25 amusement rides, various carnival games, food stands, the Donut Kitchen, and two refreshment centers. Four livestock buildings and a covered show ring area are used for the farm animal displays and judged livestock competitions. The Fire House building is temporarily transformed during Fair week into Exhibit space for both competitive home/garden arts and commercial displays.
But the Fair has not always been this way. The first Fair was held in a field belonging to one of the founders of the newly formed volunteer Kimberton Fire Company. Ironically the one of the garages used to store the fire truck was destroyed by fire, so the community and fire company members rallied together to raise funds to construct a new firehouse. It took time and patience, especially since fair profits were meager in the beginning years. But by 1934 the Fire Company was finally able to raise the $1,500 needed to purchase a 16-acre tract of land for their new (and present day) fire house located between Kimberton Road and Route 113 in East Pikeland Township.
Today the Fair operates on 42 acres of land, some of which is rented from the community during Fair Week. But even though it has grown, the Fair continues to be organized and staffed 100 percent by volunteers. Generations of local families have continued the tradition by coming out to help at the Fair. Fire Company members still operate several fundraising stands such as a Soda Ring Toss, Hamburger & Hot Dog food stands, and a Big Six Wheel. The Fair is one of the Fire Company's largest revenue producing events, having contributed over $1.5 million in cash and improvements over the past 15 fair seasons. This enables the Kimberton Fire Company to maintain its grounds and facilities, and also operate and maintain a state-of-the-art fire and rescue department that serves and protects residents of East Pikeland, West Pikeland, Schuylkill, Charlestown, East Vincent and West Vincent Townships.
The Fair works in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture's Fair Fund to create an event that not only entertains, but also gives people the chance to showcase their talents with a variety of competitive exhibit opportunities. Competitive Exhibits began in 1972 when the Fair joined the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs in 1972. Last year Kimberton Fair awarded over $20,000 in cash prizes and ribbons. This aspect of the Fair makes it truly unique and a step above the traditional "amusement park." The competitions include livestock shows for dairy cattle, sheep and goats; and competitive displays that showcase the area's best agricultural and home arts entries in categories such as hay and grain, vegetables, fruits and nuts, baked goods, gardening, sewing, quilts, arts and crafts, photography, wine and beer, maple/honey products, and antique farm equipment. All winners receive a ribbon along with a cash prize. Special baking competitions are held to determine the best Angel Food Cake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Cake and Brownies/Cookies and Bars. Bakers compete for that coveted blue ribbon and the chance to advance to the State competition at the PA Farm Show.
With all this changes over the past 80 years, the purpose of the Fair remains the same -- to raise funds to support the volunteer Fire Company. Yet the Fair has also grown to being just more than a carnival. The exhibits and contests celebrate the area's best livestock, crops, and home arts and educate non-farm families about how agriculture connects to their daily lives. The Kimberton Community Fair invites everyone to come out and experience a truly agricultural fair.
-- Article provided by Karen Dobson, Kimberton Community Fair.