Farm show president receives fair honor

HOLLIDAYSBURG – For President Glen Clapper, the Hollidaysburg Community Farm Show is all about family.

Held annually on the high school campus, the farm show gives local students and families the opportunity to show off home-grown produce, homemade goods and other agricultural products. Clapper, 77, has been involved with the show for about 70 years, he said, and he was recently recognized as an Outstanding Fair Ambassador from the state Department of Agriculture.

Clapper said he first got involved with the Hollidaysburg show through his parents. He said this a common story for many of the others who have been a part of the show for most of their lives.

“You can see that I was oriented from when I was a baby,” Clapper said.

He said that some of his children and grandchildren continue the family farm show legacy. Clapper’s wife of almost 50 years, Ruth, is also heavily involved with the show each year.

“A lot of it is husband and wife or family,” Clapper said.

He said he assumed the presidency of the show about 20 to 25 years ago, and he “felt intimidated” to get involved as a younger person.

However, the youth crowd at the show is still thriving.

“There’s a lot of younger people who are able to get involved,” he said.

Originally, the show was created through a partnership with the high school’s 4H classes, though that is no longer the case.

Other courses now promote interaction with the farm show, Clapper said. The show was developed to help the more urban local population show off its

agricultural wares and roots.

Clapper said he was surprised by the award and had “no inclination at all” that he was up for it, as he seeks merely to promote the show and keep it running.

The farm show saw funding cuts for a number of years but has been steadily regaining lost appropriations since 2011.

He said show organizers anticipate the funding returning to its previously levels, and the show is currently receiving 90 percent of what it saw previously, to the tune of $8,000 or $9,000.

Clapper said the show is working to develop a website and promote itself more heavily with the additional dollars.

“We are now in a good position to continue,” he said.

Barron L. “Boots” Hetherington, special advisor to the governor for agriculture, said the state lost eight fairs to bankruptcy.

“Fairs similar to Glen’s fair in Hollidaysburg are the most vulnerable,” Hetherington said.

And that’s why, he said, Clapper’s efforts and contribution were so important and recognized.

The Secretary of Agriculture, George Greig, visits each of the state’s 109 fairs to determine who qualifies for the award. Each fair’s board has the chance to nominate someone for the award.

The Hollidaysburg Area School District was named an Outstanding Fair Ambassador in the past for its work with the show, Hetherington said.

“It’s done on a very small basis,” he said.

He said it’s common to see the shows turn into a family affair, like the one in Hollidaysburg.

“For most fair operations it’s second, third and fourth generation,” Hetherington said, “so there’s a lot of local heritage involved.”

He said keeping the fairs alive is key because they help promote agriculture to young people who might not otherwise experience it.

Clapper said two other shows in the county have been discontinued, and he wants nothing more than to prevent the same thing from happening in Hollidaysburg.

“I’m just trying to get [the show] recognition,” he said.