Larry Krome of Gilbert found himself speechless on Thursday, Jan. 21.
He was sitting at a table with is wife of 46 years, Pat, and some friends, at the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs' state convention banquet in Hershey. He was listening to what the speaker was saying about the person who was going to be named as the state's Fair Person of the Year. When he heard that the winner was the past president of the PSACF in 2007 and 2008, he remembers thinking, "Hey, I was president in 2007 and 2008."
He turned to Pat and said, "I think he's talking about me."
By the time his name was officially announced and he was asked to come forward to accept the prestigious award, he was speechless.
"They got me good. It really caught me off guard," he says. "And I admit, I got teary-eyed."
When he finally found his voice, he says he thanked the fair board and the whole state of Pennsylvania.
"I've been fortunate to have good people around me and I got to work with good people throughout the state that have helped me and supported me. I also thanked Pat, too, because she's been the wind beneath my wings," he said.
Pat had been informed a few weeks before the banquet so she was able to tell their three children and four grandchildren in case they wanted to be there. Unknown to Larry, their son Steve Krome and his wife, Terrie, along with their children, Garrett and Allison, and their daughter, Elizabeth Krome, sat at a table out of his view, watching their dad and grandfather being recognized for his years of service dedication to the fairs of the state. Their daughter, Kristine Berry and her family live in Colorado and could not be present but he spoke to them immediately after the dinner by phone.
Larry began his fair "career" as a kid, helping his grandmother with judging and in the kitchen at the West End Fair in Gilbert, which will celebrate its 89th year in 2010 and is one of the 10 most-visited of the 116 county fairs in the state.
"It gets in your blood," he said.
Larry currently serves as a fair director, a position he was elected to in 1961 and has held for the last 39 years. His fair resume includes chairing fair committees on all levels at one time or another, serving as the fair's vice president for 25 years, fair secretary for 12 years and assistant secretary for four years.
Because of his love of county fairs, Larry became very heavily involved with the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs organization. He has served as: PSACF Round Tables chairperson; PSACF By-laws chairperson; PSACF Resolution chairperson; PSACF Budget Committee chairperson; PSACF Zone II chairperson for eight years and visited every fair in Zone II; PSACF 2nd vice president in 1985; PSACF Executive Committee Member for 25 years; PSACF vice president for 2005 and 2006; PSACF president in 2007 and 2008; Round Table Leader of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) Zone/National Conventions, and has written articles for the PSACF and IAFE. He is currently serving as a past-president and sits on the PSACF Advisory Board.
Larry and Pat attend at least 30 state fairs a year.
He believes his dedication to the fair comes from growing up with it and it being a family tradition. When he and Pat got married, she became hooked, too and served as a fair director until just recently.
Larry was nominated by four county fairs for Fair Person of the Year: West End Fair, Pike County Fair, Wayne County Fair and the Bloomsburg Fair.
Lee Robinson, past president of PSACF and chairman of the Fair Person of the Year committee, says that they look for someone who has been heavily involved in his or her local fair for a number of years and involved in PSACF.
"Larry qualified in all those areas making him a prime candidate," says Robinson. "He worked very hard with us when our Department of Agriculture funding of $4.4 million got cut to $2 million, doing a lot of lobbying for more funding, which is so helpful to the smaller fairs." (The fairs are very important in promoting agriculture.)
Larry graduated from Chestnuthill High School, Churchman's Business College and General Motors Accounting School. He was employed for several years at the family business of Krome Chevrolet and he retired from the United States Postal Service in 2003. He has been active in other organizations in his community throughout his life. He admits, being named Fair Person of the Year is a very high honor for him.
"When I became president of PSACF, that was more than I ever thought I'd see. But getting Fair Person of the Year? Well, that's the pinnacle. It doesn't get any better than that," said Larry.