About The Clinton County Fair

During 1971 and the early part of 1972 a group of Clinton County citizens met at the Great Island Presbyterian Church to explore the feasibility of developing an annual event based on agriculture, 4-H, and commercial exhibits for Clinton County. The former fair had been discontinued in the late 40’s or early 50’s. Among those present were: Stewart Ramm, Chester McMinn the Penn State Extension county agent, Ken Yearick, Kelly Shade, interested in horse racing, Mary Hunter and Dosie Cox, from the 4-H program.  At that time, it was decided that it would take not only a large suitable site, but would also require financial backing in excess of $10,000. The group decided to look into these obstacles and meet again in the future.

The 4-H program had not had a unified round up since a fair had been held at the old racetrack and livestock auction barns near Mill Hall. Most 4-H projects require a round-up for completion. For years separate round-ups were held but little coordination of timing and facilities had been carried out. A group of ambitious and committed 4-H leaders had been meeting as a development and advisory committee for the extension service and it was from this group that the fair was started. Lewis Snook, Jim Connor, Dosie Cox and Mary Hunter met at the Conner farm to discuss expansion of the livestock program and the need for a Clinton County Fair.

In April of 1973 the decision was made to hold the Horse and Pony Round-up at the Bob Chamber’s horse ring near Pine Creek.  Dosie Cox contacted Chester McMinn to propose that a combined 4-H roundup and fair be held on the adjoining property owned by the Chambers family.  He was less than encouraging, but did not veto the idea so the 4-H leaders set out on what was to be the busiest summer of their lives.

The 4-H Leaders Organization incorporated to organize the fair. The committee consisted of Mrs. Nedra Cox, chairman, Lewis Snook, Jim Connor, Mrs. ‘Trinky’ Straley, Mary and Bud Hunter. And thus, the first Clinton County Fair and Round-up was held for two days in August 1973, made possible with a sacrifice of time, hard work and the assistance of many people and groups. 

The Bob Chambers family graciously offered their field and building. The National Guard donated tents and wiring was done by Fred Buttons. The Bald Eagle Motorcycle club gave a tent that housed bingo by the Mill Hall firemen. Jim Conner and Lewis Snook set about building stalls made out of motorcycle crates salvaged from local dealers and scrap lumber from Joe Swope’s sawmill. The 4-H development fund allocated $500 for fair expenses. Trinky Straley and friends lived on the phone making arrangements for agriculture equipment displays.  Dosie Cox’s dad sent a truck and trailer to haul livestock and a super heavy electric line to carry current to the end of the grounds. Linda McGinnis’s 4-H club made posters to advertise the fair and Dosie sent letters to local politicians and organizations.  Don and Bob Keller made arrangements for electrical power hookup.  Gene Bartlebaugh sent a farris wheel, a swing, cotton candy and canny apple stand. Gene Brown sold soft pretzels and drink.  For the most part, the group did not take no for an answer! If one person turned them down, they got what was needed somewhere else. The group tried to get a little bit of everything that makes a fair. Insurance was donated by the agent. Nearly everyone who was contacted was thrilled to help, and the county was really ready to have its own fair.

The first fair combined 4-H livestock, dairy and livestock shows, animal exhibits, commercial displays, and a few rides and games.  However, the first few days of August 1973 the group was met with a real slap in the face. It rained and rained and rained! Pine Creek ran bank full and the group talked about canceling! Somehow there were enough breaks that the tents got erected, the wiring strung and on the opening day the sun came out and the two-day 1973 Clinton County fair was born. Although rain soaked the impromptu fair grounds, spirits were lifted by the warm response of the fair exhibits and spectators.  Included in the response was an invitation to hold the 1974 fair at the Mill Hall Park.

The fair committee was made up of anyone who was interested and would attend meetings. Many meetings were held over the winter in the small courtroom and interest blossomed. The Mill Hall council invited the group to use the Mill Hall Park and the fair had its second home. .  This site was more centrally located in the county and had the advantage of sewage and water.  Millbrook Playhouse hosted the horse show facilities with a temporary snow fence ring provided by Penn Dot. The National Guard continued to supply tents. The Bicentennial Committee helped to schedule events and the Mil Hall firemen continued to support the events. The 1974 fair was held August 7-10 in Mill Hall, a five acre community park where it remained until 1979.  The fair included 4-H Round-ups, open agriculture and family living classes, a tractor pulling contest, band concerts, square dancing, water carnival, horse show, model airplane exhibits with  food and games provided by local organizations and individuals. 

Dosie Cox served as president for 4 years, however, her son David was due over the 1976 fair so Mary Hunter took over.  Many people were encouraged to become involved with the fair and it grew by leaps and bounds.  The fair committee has since expanded and divided into sub-committees in order to carry out the enormous job of a developing county fair.  

The fair continued at Mill Hall until it outgrew the park and a couple years of very wet weather threatened to ruin the park facility. At the completion of the 1979 fair, it was evident that the fair search for a new, hopefully permanent site. However, the combination of high prices, meager funds forced the Association to once again settle for a temporary fair location. This third move was a 28 acre site located in Castanea Township which was leased on an annual basis for approximately $3,500 per year.  During this time a diligent search was underway for a permanent site. The fair committee needed to find a piece of ground that could be a permanent location. After looking high and low the committee found another temporary site along the Bald Eagle Creek. In 1980, the fair moved to land owned by Alfred Munro, located near the Castanea Fire Hall. There was water on site, PP&L located electricity and the fair grew and developed again. This site was a great location just off the four-lane and allowed the fair to charge an entrance fee so that events and facilities could be expanded.  Unfortunately it was in the flood plain and the committee could not build on the ground.  After working with rented tents, snow fence rings, security fencing, and moving everything on and off the property each year the fair committee finally said “Enough”! We have to have ground to build. The search was on again.

The land was not the only problem: the Penn State Extension service was “strongly suggesting the 4-H should not continue to carry the responsibility, liability and workload of a full blown fair. It was time for the fair to pull away from the 4-H Leaders Organization and the Clinton County Fair Association was formed and incorporated to support the 4-H program and carry the responsibility of the fair including the purchase of permanent grounds. This goal was reached in December 1983 when the Association, under the auspices of the Clinton County Commissioners, purchased a 66 acre site in Lamar Township for $75,000 and the task of turning a sticky clay corn field into a fairground was started. 

During the time the fair was held on temporary sites, housing for the fair’s activities were also temporary. By-mid July the Association’s Directors and other volunteers would begin to ready the sites for the annual event. Office and first aid trailers were moved onto the grounds, fences were built, water lines were installed, temporary pole barns and tents were erected, display space and animal pens were built. By the end of August all traces of the fair were dismantled, removed and returned to storage.

After the Association purchased a permanent site, permanent construction was started. A roadway was built. A track used for tractor and four-wheel drive vehicle pulls was constructed. A race track was built for all-terrain vehicles. A permanent building to be used for registration of the pulls and races and to house the announcer was built. Ten year long-range plans include building permanent sanitation, commercial, administrative and show facilities.

The purpose of the Association is to conduct an annual county fair which provides all the activities normally associated with a county fair: competition for recognition and premiums, entertainment, promotion of county agriculture, home economics and animal husbandry. 

The members of the association are committed to the success of this project.