CLEARFIELD – For over 80 years, the Clearfield County Fair has been held the first week of August.
But in 2024, the fair will undergo a “total reset,” which includes a new date, July 12–20, and an extension of its duration from six to nine days, according to Fair Manager Greg Hallstrom.
Following last year’s fair, negotiations began with several different carnival/midway companies.
At their conclusion, North Carolina-based Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment gave verbal commitment that it would sign a two-year contract for midway rides.
“Its only stipulation—we change the date of our fair,” Hallstrom said, “and so we had to decide if we were willing to go against established dates of other fairs.
“Unfortunately, we had our decision basically made for us … we need [this change] for our fair to survive. It’s the first attempt to bring back that old-school county fair.”
And the fair board wants it to have a giant and colorful carnival like it once did years ago.
Powers & Thomas boasts online of its “impressive line-up” and “spectacular midway.”
Rides fall into three categories: kiddie rides (for children to enjoy by themselves); family rides, which are for all ages; and thrill rides for those seeking that heart-pounding adrenaline rush.
The company updates its “arsenal” each year but currently owns and operates about 25 rides as it scours the industry for the “latest and greatest attractions.”
But, while many things about the fair may change, there will still be its usual staples like the annual fair parade and fireworks display.
It will remain one of Pennsylvania’s 15 county fairs with live harness racing before its grandstand crowd.
There will be a Kids Day with hopes that it includes a kids show. Other ideas—which are just that at this point—include horse pulls, some kind of thrill show, etc.
“We want something for everyone—every evening,” Hallstrom said, adding input is always more than welcome from outside the fair board.
“We got our hands full here, but we are ready and very excited. We want to get back our old-school county fair with 175,000 people through these gates.”
More details will be released throughout the coming year as plans are finalized by fair officials.
Clearfield County’s fair tradition dates back to 1852, according to historical accounts.
Originally called the Clearfield County Fair & Industrial Exhibition, its roots lie with the organization of the Clearfield County Agricultural Society, which was chartered in 1854.
In 1860, Clearfield and Curwensville held a contest to determine which town would host the county fair.
Clearfield won by raising more subscription money, and it was established as the site, except in 1895 and 1896, when Grampian was used so that a track would be available for harness racing.
In 1870, the Clearfield Driving Park became the permanent fairgrounds. In the early 1900’s, the fair was held irregularly.
However, in 1925, two permanent buildings—the grandstand and the exposition hall—were built.
In 1934, the fair was held Tuesday through Friday, Sept. 11-14, and one year later got suspended due to The Great Depression.
In 1936, the fair resumed with a full week of activities Monday through Saturday, Sept. 14-19.
The James E. Strates Shows made its first appearance in 1937 and continued for over 30 years.
The Clearfield Volunteer Fire Department assumed management of the fair in 1938, and also adding the first fireman’s parade.
In 1941, the date of the fair was changed from September to the first full week in August.
In 1944 and 1945, there were no fairs because of World War II.
In the late 1970’s, the fair board entered into a lease agreement with Clearfield Borough to take over the management of the fairgrounds and its buildings.
Since then, the board has been responsible for renovations and improvements to the fairgrounds, also known as the Clearfield Driving Park.