First Posted: 9/18/2014
That’s what last month’s 35-acre expansion of the Luzerne County Fairgrounds provides for fair leadership, local service groups and community members.
The property grew from 38 to 73 acres with the purchase of an adjoining lot from the Park Family. According to Board of Officers President Alan Pugh, a vision committee comprised of leaders from the fair, as well as service groups and members of the community, is in the process of formation, in order to determine the best use for the property.
“We have a couple ides,” he said. “One, of course, is parking. It used to be used as parking at some point in the past, as we know. We currently lease the parking lot across the street. That is for sale. So, we’re fortunate that we had the opportunity to buy this property.”
And, considering the purchase of 35 acres cost the fair $265,000, in comparison with the 16 acres for sale across the street for $266,000, Pugh pointed out the deal was a bargain.
“We’re really happy about it,” he said, “because it allows the fair, no matter what takes place with property around it to exist on its own. That’s the big deal to us.”
The Luzerne County Fair is more than just a yearly event, and the importance of the property to the community is recognized year-round.
“Incorporated in 1980,” states the fair’s website, “the Dallas Area Fall Fair, Inc. presently consists of eight service clubs in the Back Mountain, the Luzerne County Extension Service and an associate group of community members. In addition to the sponsorship of the annual Fair, the Dallas Area Fall Fair, Inc. manages year-round activities at the grounds including winter storage and grounds rentals.
“As it has for the past 50 years, The Luzerne County Fair continues to be organized and operated by a committee of volunteers which is comprised of individuals from the association member clubs and the community. Current member clubs that are the heart and soul of the “GREEN TEAM” include: Dallas Rotary, Dallas Kiwanis; Dallas Lions, Dallas Horseshoe Pitching Club, Harveys Lake Lions, Lake Silkworth Lions, Luzerne County Extension Service, Lake-Lehman Band Sponsors and Associate Members from the community.”
Pugh said his hope for the new fairgrounds includes an area for a tractor pull and power sports, which the fair previously had no space for during its annual event. But just as important, he hopes the community will benefit from it throughout the year.
“We’re really hoping that, through the vision committee, not only can we further the fairgrounds,” he said, “but also further the other uses of it for the community. I think that idea to have people both deeply entrenched with the fair itself, and looking at it from the outside view will help us maximize this community asset, which is what we view these grounds as.”
Although some of the funds for the purchase came from savings put aside throughout the years for that purpose, the majority of the amount is still owed on a bank loan against the property. Pugh said the organization plans to pay it off through various fundraising efforts, such as the annual wine festival with the Rotary Club and the winter storage program.
He doesn’t expect fall fair admission prices to increase, although they haven’t been raised in many years. He said if the cost does change in the near future, it will not be due to the expansion.
“It’s been very important to try and keep that ‘day out for the family’ as the affordable venue that it is,” he said.