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Franklin Co. Fair gets new director

November 28, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - During a summer when farmers were hit hard by drought, it was rain that ended up hurting the Franklin County Fair, according to Fair Association President Robert H. Eckstine.

"We got rained out on a Friday night, which is our biggest night. Because we got rained out, we lost some money," said Eckstine, who last week was named the new president of the association. He replaces Gerald W. Reichard of Waynesboro, Pa.

"(Weather) is one of those elements you just can't predict," said Eckstine, 57, who owns the Meadow-Vu dairy farm at 14422 Bain Road, Mercersburg, Pa. The dairy farmer has been the associate manager in charge of the Livestock Division for several years, but his involvement in the fair goes back much further.

His late father, Paul Eckstine, was livestock chairman for many years, and "I've always been an exhibitor - for 30 years," he said. His sons, Steve and Tom, have also showed off their best Holsteins at the fair, which has been held more than 30 years at the club grounds.

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Now Eckstine will oversee the entire operation, which annually attracts tens of thousands of people to the Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club grounds near the village of Williamson, Pa.

That fair includes livestock and commodity shows for everything from steers and rabbits to hay and green beans; crafts, carnival rides, machinery displays, musical entertainment and special events such as the Barnyard Olympics and tractor pulls.

Planning for the event will begin in January with the schedule set by early April, Eckstine said. The planning, however, will continue until the July meeting of the association, which has about 45 members.

The fair is held during the third full week of August, he said.

Most of the money generated by the fair is plowed back into maintaining the buildings and grounds, but several organizations have a small financial stake in its success, Eckstine said.

"Some organizations have bought shares and receive dividends for anything generated over and above expenses," he said.

Those include breeder and 4-H clubs, the Izaak Walton League, The Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club and the Mercersburg Sportsman's Association, he said.

The Franklin County Fair Association won't be losing the services of Reichard.

"Gerald's staying on as our secretary and my right-hand man," Eckstine said. "Thank God for that."

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