For over seven decades, folks have traveled from far and wide to Berks County Berks County to enjoy the spectacle and unadulterated Americana experience of the Oley Valley Community Fair. As one would expect, the fair’s varied range of competitions draws thousands of entries each year. It’s no wonder the Oley Fair is one of the most popular events in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. From blue ribbon winners to delicious PA Dutch food, to great entertainment, the Oley Fair is worth a visit.
If you’re new to the fair or are just looking for more information about events and activities, we’ve got you covered.
When Does The Oley Fair Start?
The 73rd Annual Oley Valley Community Fair starts on September 19th and runs through the 21st with gates opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. The event offers free admission, with an easy $5 parking fee. Directions to the fairgrounds are available on their site.
A Bit of History
Shortly after WWII, two Oley residents felt that the area needed a project like a county fair to bring the community together. Seventy-three years later, the fair remains an important for Oley residents. In fact, local schools close so that students can enjoy the experience. True to its founders’ hope, the Oley Valley Community Fair owes much of its existence to a massive force of committed volunteers that work to keep the annual event alive.
Between the competitions, and sampling all of the different foods; the fair is known for its french fries and PA Dutch fare, there are shows to catch. The fair features performances by the Oley Valley High School Music Department, magic and ventriloquist shows, various demonstrations, and much much more.
In addition to the entertainment, you’ll find carnival rides, games, and a variety of exhibits that showcase the goods of local artists like apiary products, photography, needlecraft, and baked goods.
Each night, there are specialty shows. Thursday night features Dion Pride and The Cramer Brothers Band. Friday, the talented Jess Zimmerman Band takes the stage. The Main Street Cruisers wrap up the fair on Saturday night.
Oley Fair Competitions
The food, games, and other events are all fantastic draws to the Oley Valley Fair, but the real show is with the competitions. State fair standards can be found here to be sure, but some events you just can’t find anywhere else.
Animal Presentation Competitions
The Oley Valley Fair gives farmers the opportunity to display their prized livestock for judging at these competitions. Depending on which class they fall within, the rules for competition can vary. Primarily though, the rules require that each animal be in good health and the health must be verified by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.
Once in the ring, each department—dairy, beef, sheep, swine, goats, and rabbits—is judged according to criteria specific to it. Health, appearance, size, and behavior all factor into decisions by the judges.
Tractor Pulling Contests
As the name implies, these competitions focus on the pulling power and torque of massive tractors. Each tractor is inspected beforehand and must meet the specific requirements for its own pulling weight class (anywhere from under 6000 lbs up to 17000 lbs). Once cleared, the tractors are hooked up to the heavy rigs designed to offer measured resistance against the tractor.
It’s not just about rolling out with superior power though. Each weight class has its own speed limit. With the kinds of weight that these tractors are pulling, you can imagine that going too fast might be dangerous. Once they’ve demonstrated their pulling prowess, tractors also need to come to a complete stop before their competition is complete. Then once unhitched from the weighted trailer, the tractor must leave the track on its own power.
Lamb Trimming & Blocking Contest
The first part of this competition’s name is easy to understand, but what is blocking? It’s not enough to just trim a lamb, but the animal also must be properly secured so it can be properly trimmed. Any participating sheep must have at least 1 ½” of wool growth. The judges for this competition focus on the before and after results of the trimming. Special care and technique go into trimming a lamb, so even though one competitor might be faster, that doesn’t mean the grooming is better. We all know what it’s like to get a quick haircut done poorly!
Celebrity Dairy Showmanship Contest
This contest offers a great deal of freedom to the contestants. The entrants are made up of local celebrities like news personalities, former contest winners, council members, and even high school principals. Once assigned a dairy cow, it’s up to the contestant to make a big show of themselves with their co(w)-participant.
Judges evaluate each contestant based on how these novice cow-showers handle the “high pressure” of the competition. Sometimes, the cattle don’t like participating and give the contestants a hard time, but usually it adds to the fun of the show.
Near the end of the fair, once all of the points have been totalled, and all of the livestock evaluated, the prizes are awarded. Farmers and livestock caretakers all get to see if their hard work has paid off. Across all of the competitions a tremendous amount of prizes are awarded. Last year saw over $23,000 of distributions. Beyond the prize money though, every participant gets to go home with a brilliant memory of the Oley Valley Fair.
Whatever draws you in, the Oley Valley Community Fair is sure to wow you with all kinds of crafts, food, carnival experiences, and fantastic community competition. Make sure to mark it on your calendar so you don’t miss out!