This Week in History

Bloomsburg Fair celebrates longevity, past, and community

Micah Beiter, BU History Club

It is that time of the year again. The Bloomsburg Fair is back in town for the 164th year. 

An event appreciated by people young and old, within the Bloomsburg area and even those distant from it, the week of the Bloomsburg Fair is one of the most anticipated times of the year for those who know about it.

The Bloomsburg Fair is known for its amazing food, animal exits, museums, amusement rides and games, notable musicians and performers, and even helicopter rides around the area. 

Being the largest event in the state, people from all over Pennsylvania and even beyond come to this event.

However, the most important part of this event is how it brings people together in community. 

According to the Bloomsburg Fair website, the fair was founded back in 1855 by five men who were working on starting up a fair where exhibitors could show off their fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural merchandise.

One of the men, Caleb Barton, showcased his grain drill while B.F. Hartman entered his driving horse in a race where he was the only contestant.

Although not much is known about the Bloomsburg Fair during its first several years, it is known that it started out as a one-day long event. 

As time went on, the event became more well-known and it became a two-day long event in 1857, then three days in 1858, then four in 1878.

In a very modern age, the Bloomsburg Fair still honors and celebrates its agricultural and rural past. This was what the fair did in its very first year and this is what it continues to do over 163 years later in 2019.

Over a hundred years ago, it took people from the community to found this event and make it grow. Today, this event still needs people to come together to make it not only successful, but possible.

There are over 1,600 vendors at the fair. The people running these stations range from traveling vendors to restaurants, churches, Bloomsburg University organizations, and even student volunteers from local districts, as several schools in the area have off for the entire week.

The musicians range from an 8-year old fiddler to Christian singer Amy Grant and the country band Old Dominion. 

Food ranges from unique grilled cheeses, pork chop on a stick, to almost any fried dessert you can think of (They even have fried Reese’s cups!).

According to “The Bicentennial History of the Bloomsburg Fair” by Susan Dauria, in recent years, the fair has drawn over 400,000 people; mostly from Columbia County and the counties surrounding it.

Some may come for the unique and delicious food. Some may come to see different farm animals such as goats, ponies, or rabbits. 

Others may come to see musicians who they could have only dreamed of seeing at a place so close to where they live.

Many others come simply to have an enjoyable time with their friends or family. The point is that the fair not only brings in hundreds of thousands of people every year, but that it brings different people together in one location where they can celebrate their past and be part of one of the oldest annual events in the state of Pennsylvania.

Micah is a senior Secondary Education History major and vice president of the History Club.