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Wyoming County Fair Opens September 1

The 2004 edition of the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair officially opens next Wednesday, Sept. 1, and will run through Monday, Sept. 6, when the Oak Ridge Boys will be the featured entertainment. Believe it or not, the first Wyoming County fair pre-dates the Civil War, and this year's edition falls 147 years after the inaugural Wyoming County fair.

That is not 147 continuous years, because it was discontinued in 1942, shortly before World War II, and wasn't revived again until the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Club did so in 1985. That was a fledgling operation compared to its scale today and was located along Rt. 92 near Bartron Supply. It was in 1991 that the fair moved to its present location near Meshoppen, thanks to the Kiwanians' purchase of 231 acres along Rt. 6.

It didn't come cheaply at a purchase price of $247,000. With only $5,000 in their treasury, the Kiwanis Club made the decision to borrow the money, and with the purchase came the land and buildings, including cattle barn, storage barn and two houses that could be put to good use.

"Fair volunteers spent countless hours and a ton of money to level the ground, repair the buildings, provide electric service, water, blacktop, fences and parking facilities," reports Kiwanian Jim Dillon who said this was when the fair "went big time" and was able to pay for top entertainment and draw the crowds they get today.

From there, it was just a matter of continued expansion. That included livestock and exhibition facilities throughout the 1990's. The only major setback was the collapse of the roof of the exhibition building, compliments of a major February storm in 1994. That included another major expenditure—this time over $10,000—and, as Dillon notes, "a massive volunteer effort from all over the county rallied to the fair's rebuilding project." It ended up spurring donations and even more interest from the community and lent truth to the "Field of Dreams" adage: "If you build it, they will come."

Then there is another slogan that the county fair adopted when it settled at its current location: "One price pays all." That means that you pay to get in and get to avail yourself of everything from parking to entertainment and rides once you get inside.

Then there is the motto that has played a big part in the fair's progressive nature: "Bigger and Better Each Year."

Aside from all the facilities that are now part of the fair complex, the most critical part of the fair's annual success, its promoters agree, are an estimated 900 volunteers who help out each year. Then there are the fair-goers, numbering in the thousands over the six days of the event.

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