Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture George D. Greig kicked off the 30th year of the Schuylkill County Fair during a ribbon cutting anniversary celebration held yesterday afternoon at the fairgrounds in Summit Station.
"Why Schuylkill County? Why not? Every fair is unique," said Greig, who said this was his first visit to the Schuylkill County Fair. "I see so much pride here in Schuylkill County."
"How many times do you get a secretary of agriculture to come out to a fair here in Schuylkill County?" asked Kim Morgan, public relations and spokeswoman for the Schuylkill County Fair Association. "It's an honor."
Starting a new fair tradition as part of the opening ceremonies, dignitaries and guests were encouraged to stamp their thumb print on a memorial poster board.
"This poster is a way for people to leave their mark," said Paul Kennedy, president of the fair. "We have several posters like this on the grounds and are encouraging volunteers, guests and visitors to add their thumb print."
"Our youth are our future," said Greig. "Fairs provide our youth of tomorrow a future in agriculture as well as leadership development.
"We were dairy farmers for 30 years. Production agriculture has been my life," said Greig. "My brother and I formed a partnership in 1976, bought the farm off our parents and increased the size of it quite a bit.
"With the 2013-2014 budget, the fair fund went from $2.5 to $3 million," said Greig. "That money will come from race horse development funds."
He explained that with the Game Law Act 71 of 2004, the casinos give a portion of their money to the race horse development fund.
"That fund is promoting agriculture. I believe there are still 12 race tracks on county fair grounds across Pennsylvania."
"I see so much pride and family here," said Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage at the fair on Monday, who added that agriculture is Schuylkill County's primary industry. "Everything here is great. Look at the hardworking volunteers. All you have to do is look at the people and you'll see what the Schuylkill County Fair is all about."
"Our attendance has grown consistently over the past 30 years ago," said Kennedy. He added that the first day of the fair drew an above average attendance as well as a much larger increase in vendor and organization participation. Monday's totals consisted of 33 hooks at the truck pull, over 150 livestock entries, 200 dairy entries, 31 Royalty Pageant entries and above normal entries in the flower and competitive categories.
"The Schuylkill County Fair is where dreams are being harvested," said Kennedy. "If you build it, they will come."
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania's first lady Susan Corbett is scheduled to attend the fair.