History of Williamsburg Farm Show
Williamsburg Community located in Blair County PA consists of Williamsburg Borough, Catharine Township, and Woodbury Township.
One of the first farm shows/fairs began in Catharine Township in 1913 and was held at the Yellow Springs School. It was said there was fierce competition between local farmers and sometimes within the family. Exhibits included dairy and livestock as well as other items produced on the local farm and by other members of the community. Some of the families involved in the Catharine Township Farm Show were: William England family, William Hearn family, Edwin Hetrick family and Samuel Mingle family. It is not certain what year the Catharine Township Farm Show ceased operation.
In the late 20’s and during the 1930’s, the Williamsburg Farm Show was held in the Borough of Williamsburg in various locations. Two such locations were the Graziano Building and the Charles Stultz Farm Implement Building. The Clover Creek Grange, the Millie Allison family, and the George Greaser family along with many other families and individuals were instrumental in working with these early farm shows. George Brenneman and Dean Hearn have fond memories of exhibiting at these shows.
At a meeting of the Williamsburg Lions Club early in the summer of 1940, the promotion of a farm show for the Community of Williamsburg was discussed and a committee appointed to look into the possibilities. This committee met with a number of leaders from the Williamsburg area and decided to form an incorporated farm show association.
During the summer months of 1940, the committee met regularly. Stirring interest was difficult at first and was discouraging to the committee; but with recollection of fine farm shows held in the past and knowledge that half of the families in the area were en-gaged in farming, they were encouraged to proceed with plans for a show.
October 17-18-19, 1940, were the dates for the first farm show following incorporation. More than one thousand exhibits were entered. It was estimated that over 3,000 people visited the show during the three days. Exhibitors numbered 213 and a total of $32.00 was paid in premium money in addition to ribbons.
Additional shows were held in 1941 and 1942 and then for some reason, possibly the Second World War, the organization became inactive.
July 1966, a committee from the Williamsburg Young Farmers held a meeting with interested members of other organizations to discuss the possibility of reorganizing the Williamsburg Community Farm Show Association. The first farm show since 1942 was held September 26-27-28-29, 1966. The first year the farm show was held in the Veteran’s Memorial Community Center building. Ribbons were awarded but no cash money was given. There was a good number of exhibitors and exhibits.
In a few years the number of exhibits had increased to the point where the field crops, fruits, and vegetables needed to be moved to a tent in the parking lot. Each year the numbers increased and larger tents were needed.
Dairy calves were housed under the picnic pavilion in the late 70’s. Three years later, a small dairy barn was built; and later an addition was added to the dairy barn to make room for sheep and goats. As the number of animal exhibits increased, tents were added to house the animals.
A large tent was placed over the outdoor basketball court to provide a place for entertainment. During the latter part of the 80’s, a small carnival was added for additional entertainment. An increased number of exhibitors, exhibits, and more contests broughtmore activity to the farm show with the arrival of the 90’s. The Board of Directors began to explore the possibility of constructing a farm show building which became a reality in 1995.
With the help of State Senator Robert C. Jubelirer and State Representative Jerry Stern, community grant monies were received; and with the cooperation of the Hollidaysburg Trust Company, the building was started in the fall of 1995. The new farm show buildingwas ready to use during the August 1996 Williamsburg Community Farm Show. In 1998 a Capitol Improvement Grant from the PA Department of Agricultural Fair Funds Division was received and used to correct a drainage and water runoff problem and also to blacktop the parking lot. The project was completed in the spring of 1999.
Open horse shows were started on land which the farm show rents from Catharine Township in 1997. Improvements are an ongoing process with as many as four horse shows held each year including one which starts farm show week. A member of the farm show board of directors handles all horse show business. During the 2009 season, a new show ring was constructed by Warriors Mark Fencing and a larger concession stand was added due to the growth of horse show entries.
The picnic pavilion and the playground kitchen with attached picnic shelter were acquired from the Williamsburg Playground Association in 1999 and 2000.
For the 2002 farm show, a new 100’ x 45’ dairy barn was built and also a computer room, a meeting room and a storage area completed the unfinished upstairs of the farm show building. Both projects were made possible with State Senator Robert C. Jubelirer helping to get another Community Development Grant from the Fair Fund Division of the PA Department of Agriculture.
Since the reorganization in 1996, there has been much growth in the number of exhibitors and exhibits. The community has been very cooperative and supportive of the Williamsburg Community Farm Show. The 2003 farm show paid $19,000.00 in premium money plus ribbons with exhibits in 20 of the 24 departments.
State Senator Robert C. Julelirer helped to get a matching grant from the Fair Fund Division of the PA Department of Agriculture to provide a 100’ x 40’ livestock barn built by Renno Construction. The new barn housed miniature horses and goats during the 2008 farm show.
The Williamsburg Community Farm Show Association and the community have worked very hard to make the farm show a success with fundraisers consisting of ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken barbeques, sausage sales, and craft shows. A benefit auction is held every year with the community and surrounding area providing donated merchandise, items signed by local celebrities, and gift certificates. The benefit auction money will be used to upgrade the electrical system for the concession area, amusement ride area, and livestock barn area.
With the exception of the property owned by the Williamsburg Veterans Memorial Community Center, the farm show rents a total of 44.15 acres from Catharine Township and the Community Center.
The Williamsburg Community Farm Show Building consists of a large room 50’ x 70’, a fully-equipped kitchen, two meeting rooms, two storage areas, restrooms, and a large patio. The facilities are available to rent for banquets, dinners, dinner meetings, parties, receptions, auctions, etc. Farm show members are available to serve dinners.
*Joseph Very, Secretary, Williamsburg Community Farm Show prepared this information