MONDAY Q&A: Fair official promises fun, tradition at this year's event
Calvin Farren, as a fair board member, has been around the Indiana County Fair for nine years. As an Indiana native, he’s been familiar with the fair, he said, for his entire life. Farren talked with Gazette staffer Ellen Matis for a behind-the-scenes look at fair planning, and what fairgoers can expect this year. The Indiana County Fair will be held Aug. 24 to 31 at Mack Park in White Township.
Question: As a member of the 15-member fair board, what do you do?
Answer: I and another gentleman on the board work with the gates, admissions and ticket-takers and also sponsorships for the fair — which are a huge contribution for putting the fair on for the week, a tremendous help I should say, simply because without that we would not be able to maintain the $8 admission fee. That’s our intent, to try to do that as long as we can simply to make it affordable for all to come and enjoy, if not all week, a night or two at the fair. We feel that we have a very family-oriented fair, geared towards, we’d like to think, newborns to whatever tier of senior you are.
Question: What is sponsorship for the fair like?
Answer: We offer different levels of sponsorships. We have been blessed with seven that do “day sponsors.”
Those particular sponsors are larger contributors and, in return, we reward them with what we call “Sponsor of the Day,” all day. We hang a large banner on the back of the grandstand between the grandstand and along the midway there that everyone sees that basically says who the sponsor of that particular day is. The programs that we have printed tell you which sponsor and what day they are sponsoring.
Question: What can fairgoers expect this year that’s different than past fairs?
Answer: Every year at our fair we do something geared for the children. This year, we’re doing K9s in Flight. We saw some previews of it when we were in Hershey for the annual fair convention and basically the gentleman that sets up the concessions took a liking to it and came back to the other 14 board members and convinced us we needed to have a show. So, that’s what this year’s show is on the football field.
Question: What kind of planning goes in to the fair year to year?
Answer: Most people, and even myself until I got involved with this, thought that once this fair was over you’d probably have a few months off, but usually every September we have our corporate meeting and that’s when we review the funds and the outcome of the year and from that day on it’s basically pushing … towards the putting together of next year’s fair.
In a large part there are some of the shows that we book, we book every year, so it’s a thing that we have to make a decision on within a short period of time to assure that we have that show back next year. They’re booked from yearto year and they’re booked pretty tightly, so if we say no, chances are we’ll never get them back.
Question: What are the big shows this year, and how do you go about finding artists for shows?
Answer: Basically we work with a gentleman that works in Nashville. All of our country music stars are young, aspiring artists just on their way up the country music ladder. They’ve been very successful in the nine, 10 years we’ve been doing that. We’ve had some pretty good-size names through the years — Dierks Bentley was one of them.
This year’s star is Craig Campbell. Craig has four hits that are big for him (“Fish,” “Family Man,” “When I Get It” and “Outta My Head), one that’s in the Top 20 right now.
The reason that we use them is because of their swing-up through the Northeast (during their tour). That affords us the luxury of getting a quality singer for that night.
When we sign with a singer, they cannot perform within 100 miles of the Indiana County Fairgrounds that year.
Question: What part of the fair are you most excited about this year?
Answer: I’m always excited if we have nice weather for the week. We talk as a board and plan all year round and say “it takes as much planning to prepare for bad weather as it does with nice,” and we’ve been pretty blessed. For several years there’s been pretty nice weather.
Seeing the youth year after year and as they grow and mature in to young adults, knowing that somewhere we had some input — that’s the biggest thing, the enjoyment.
Question: What kinds of animals will fairgoers see this year?
Answer: As of noon today (Thursday) the list is: Dairy, 57; dairy beef, 6; sheep, 42; beef, 40; donkey, 1; draft horses, 15; mini drafts, 13; goats, 22; and rabbits, 23.
Question: What’s something that happens behind the scenes at the fair that most people don’t realize?
Answer: Things that’ll help us this year — we’ll get full reimbursement from the state of Pennsylvania for the fair, which is something that we haven’t had in four years. This enables us to look at new buildings, replacement of the old ones, keeping the grounds that we have that we share with the Mack Foundation.
• EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you know someone who would make a great subject for the Monday Q&A? If so, call Jason Levan at (724) 465-5555, ext. 270.
Calvin Farren, at a glance...
Job: Sales manager at Turner Dairy Farms
Where I grew up: Indiana
Hobbies: Spending the day with my five grandchildren
Favorite food: Cod Romano from Luigi’s
Favorite movie: Any James Bond movie
Last book I read: “8 Seconds,” by Charlie McDade
People who have inspired me the most: The mothers — my mother and mother-in-law