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Early afternoon near the midway.

There are changes this year as the Indiana County Fair readies its 157th edition at the fairgrounds in White Township’s J.S. Mack Community Park.

For one, the annual concert that is a highlight of this fair — “always the week before Labor Day” — will feature local and regional artists in a “Music Expo with Four-Band Jam” on Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

Scheduled are:

• Summit Church Worship Band, from the church on the outskirts of Indiana along Route 422. Organizers said it will offer “songs that proudly celebrate and worship God” and a belief that “being active and vocal residents in our community impacts the lives of all those within our community, while reminding us that we can’t live our lives alone.”

• Andy Davis Band, featuring Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County-based “outlaw country” singer and songwriter Andy Davis, who has a hit single, “Small Town.”

• Seven Mile Run, an Indiana-area band. Organizers said “they’ve opened for a lot of big names, but now they’re coming home” to offer samples of “all eras of country music, as well as some Southern rock and oldies.” They’ve played covers and have two albums of original music.

• Arena 13, another local band offering rock favorites from the 1980s. Paul Hearn leads vocals with Dave Batistig on lead guitar, Billy Citeroni on keyboard, Dan Rummel on bass and Rick Topeka on bass.

For another, that “week before Labor Day” actually will be “10 days before Labor Day,” as the fair will open Thursday, with two days of harness racing before settling in to other activities throughout the fairgrounds.

“The state harness racing commission asked us if we could move our racing dates,” fair Manager Ed Nehrig said. “You have to give a horse three days’ rest between races.”

And other harness races are beckoning around the same time as the races at Mack Park.

“Harness racing traditionally doesn’t draw big crowds,” Nehrig said. “It does help us with our expenses. We get a little bit of money for track upkeep and so forth.”

And the races are free to the public.

There was a time when schools didn’t open until after Labor Day.

“School starting (prior to Labor Day) really hurts the Indiana County Fair,” Nehrig said. “We are a youth-oriented fair. Most of our livestock exhibits are youth-oriented, and only youth can show some of them.”

So change the dates of the fair?

“We’re not really locked in,” Nehrig conceded, “but it would be a real problem to change the date,” because scheduling is a factor in other ways.

“It also helps if we’re trying to line up an act, if they can stay in the area, it makes it easier (for them),” the fair manager said.

Not every youngster will be in a classroom during the week of the fair.

“We’ve been real happy over the past three or four years to have participation from home-schoolers and the cyber-schoolers,” the fair board president said.

Also, some of the features found at Mack Park have been a part of other area fairs, Nehrig said, such as the petting zoo that in other years also could be found at the Westmoreland County Fair.

After Thursday’s races, the rest of the fair begins to take shape on Friday, as organizers receive all exhibits except for livestock and Christmas trees.

Also Saturday are baking contests at 9 a.m., including the 32nd annual Blue Ribbon Apple Pie, 16th annual Incredible Angel Food Cake, 2019 Homemade Chocolate Cake and 2019 PA Preferred Junior Baking Cookies-Brownies-Bars contests.

All are sponsored by The Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs, and are part of a preliminary process also involving more than 100 other fairs across the Keystone State.

At 4 p.m. on Aug. 25, a successor will be named to 2018 Indiana County Fair Queen Ashton Stiles. Nehrig said there are three entrants for that honor.

“The schools have been good in letting their kids participate,” he said. “They allowed the girls to take off and be here.”

A lot of people are involved in putting the fair together.

“At least a couple hundred” volunteers “put in endless hours,” Nehrig said. “We’re very fortunate for the volunteers we have every year.”

In addition, he said, “our sponsors have been very faithful, very loyal over the years.”

Approximately 150 vendors are slated, not counting the seven major machine dealers from five area counties.

In addition to the music expo, other attractions can be found throughout the week.

“We try to set up our entertainment for a different crowd every day and every night,” Nehrig said.

Fees are $8 for admission, $5 for an all-day ride pass and $20 for a walk-around pass that covers the whole week, or up to six people on a given night.

The Indiana County Fair isn’t meant to be a money-maker.

“If we pay our bills, we’re happy,” Nehrig said.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Following is the schedule of events for the 157th Indiana County Fair at J.S. Mack Community Park.

THURSDAY

Harness racing, 2 p.m.

FRIDAY

• Receiving all exhibits except livestock and Christmas trees, noon-7 p.m.

• Harness racing, 2 p.m.

SATURDAY

$5 grandstand admission, no refunds

• Judging exhibits, 9 a.m.

• Antique tractor pull ($10 hook fee, $10 pit pass), 9 a.m.

• Modified and farm tractor pull ($15 hook fee, $10 pit pass), 7 p.m.

• Receiving carcass livestock until 5 p.m.

AUG. 25

Free admission

• 5K race/walk, 8 a.m.

• Receiving 4-H/FFA market livestock, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Market livestock weigh-in, 3:30 p.m. until done

• Receiving of Christmas trees, 8 a.m. to noon

• Antique motor and machinery show, noon

• Kid’s pedal tractor pull (ages 4-11), 1 to 3 p.m.

• 4-H dog show, 1 p.m.

• Crowning of Indiana County Fair queen, 4 p.m.

• Harvest Home Festival, 5 p.m.

AUG. 26

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m. Veterans and seniors over 65 are free.

• 4-H/FFA goat show, 3 p.m.

• Stock gasoline and stock diesel 4x4 pickup pull, 7 p.m. ($15 hook fee, $10 pit pass)

AUG. 27

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m.

• Junior swine show and junior swine showmanship, 8 a.m.

• Draft horse show and miniature horse show, 8:30 a.m.

• Open dairy show and junior dairy show and showmanship, 9 a.m.

• Poultry, 9 a.m.

• Band Night, 7 p.m.

AUG. 28

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m.

• Sheep show, 8 a.m.

• Market goat show, 1 p.m.

• Music Expo (four bands: Summit Church worship band, Andy Davis Band, Seven Mile Run, Arena 13), 5:30 p.m. The track is standing room only; no chairs allowed.

• 4-H rabbit show, 6 p.m.

• Lead to line contest, 6:30 p.m.

AUG. 29

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m.

• Beef show, 9 a.m.

• 4-H horse show, 9 a.m.

• Cheerleading Expo Night, 6 p.m.

• 4-H poultry showmanship, 6 p.m.

• Premier showmanship contest, 6 p.m.

• Log-sawing contest, 7 p.m.

• Cheese auction following showmanship contest, 7 p.m.

• Milk-chugging contest following cheese auction, 8 p.m.

AUG. 30

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m.

• Horse show, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• 4-H/FFA trophy presentation, 3 p.m.

• Junior livestock sale (swine arena), 5 p.m.

• Limited pro stock tractors and smoker series (Big rig semis pull, 7 p.m. ($10 pit pass)

AUG. 31

$8 admission, no refunds, after 2 p.m.

• Demolition derby, noon (Driver, $25; pit, $20)

• Stock-semi, tri-axle dump and open gas

             Open diesel, 4x4 pull, 7 p.m.

             (Semi, tri-axle trucks $20 entry fee, $10 pit pass)

             (Pickups $15 entry fee, $10 pit pass)

DAILY

• Variety of 4-H and open exhibits

• Kiddie farm: Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Exhibit and display buildings: Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.; Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Miniature farm display

• Indiana County Fair history exhibit: Vegetable Building and Home Ec Area, Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

• Train show

• Antique display

• Entertainment on Community Stage

Aug. 26-31

• C&L Shows carnival rides ($5 ride all day — pass needed; purchase in carnival area)

Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to close

Friday, 3 p.m. to close

Saturday, noon to close

• Bar C Ranch Petting Zoo

Opens Monday through Saturday at noon

• Rock N Roll Pet Store Kids Show (near kiddie farm)

Monday through Friday, 5:45 and 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, 3:45, 5:45 and 7:45 p.m.

• Victoria Circus (football field)

Monday through Friday, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.