The Grange Encampment and Fair – My Walking Vacation

 Every Year I attend Grange Fair. I consider it my vacation. It has been a tradition in our family.  My parents started tenting before I was a year old. The earliest I remember is tenting in North 2. We were there until I was a teenager. I think I was around 16 when we moved to a tent closer to the grounds. Then my parents bought a motor home and we camped near the Grand stand. I was married with children and grandchildren by that time. So you can see how attending Grange Fair has become a tradition. 


My mother and dad kept their motor home camping place until it got to hard for them. I still tried to get them there after I was taking care of them. Even though they couldn’t enjoy it the same way; they still enjoyed. My mother in the wheel chair and my dad on the scooter.  Here is a picture of my parents enjoying their first great great grandchild.  A tent can be seen in the background. 



 It is amazing to me how Grange Fair has grown over the years. I remember going to the playground by myself when I was little. I remember going to see the cows, goats, sheep and pigs. And of course watching the parade.  But the grounds were much smaller then.


Each year there is an art show at the fair. I entered my artwork from the time I was barely a teenager. It was fun winning ribbons and sometimes cash. As I got older the prizes I won paid for the tickets for my family and gave me some extra cash. I was so pleased one year to receive a best of show ribbon.


My participation in the art show has fallen off the past 20 or so years; because they started requiring entrance forms ahead of time and also I didn’t have as much time.


My mother was a Granger and she would help decorate floats for the parade and sometimes ride on them.  She remember she portrayed Betsy Ross sewing the American flag on one.


The Grange Fair has grown so much since the late 40’s when my parents started to attend.  I am amazed at how large it has become.  It started with a picnic and camping out in tents.  Then camper spaces were added and much more room for concessions.  


When there were so many people trying to get camper spaces; they made space farther out from the fair grounds, called the overflow, where people could park campers without electricity or water hookups. 


When they started hosting horse shows they added a horse barn.  The horse shows became so popular that they built another barn. Now there is talk of the possibility of building a third barn.


What is Grange?

The Grange Movement: Patrons of Husbandry

Oliver Hudson Kelley was an employee of the Department of Agriculture in the 1860s. He made an official trip through the South and was astounded by the lack of sound agricultural practices he encountered. Joining with other interested individuals in 1867, Kelley formed the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal organization complete with its own secret rituals. Local affiliates were known as “granges” and the members as “grangers.” In its early years, the Grange was devoted to educational events and social gatherings.

Growth was slow in the early years, but the attraction of social events was considerable. Farm life in the 19th century was marked by a tedium and isolation that usually was relieved only by church functions and the weekly trips to town for supplies.

Following the Panic of 1873, the Grange spread rapidly throughout the farm belt, since farmers in all areas were plagued by low prices for their products, growing indebtedness and discriminatory treatment by the railroads. These concerns helped to transform the Grange into a political force.

National Grange

Grange influence was particularly strong in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, where political pressure yielded a series of “Granger laws” designed to give legislative assistance to the farmers. Those laws received an initial blessing from the Supreme Court in Munn v. Illinois (1876), but a later counteroffensive by the railroads brought the Wabash case (1886), which wiped out those gains.

During the 1870s, the Grangers advocated programs such as the following:

  • Cooperative purchasing voentures as a means to obtain lower prices on farm equipment and supplies
  • Pooling of savings as an alternative to dependence on corrupt banks, an early form of credit union
  • Cooperative grain elevators to hold non-perishable crops until the optimal times to sell
  • Cooperative purchasing ventures as a means to obtain lower prices on farm equipment and supplies
  • Pooling of savings as an alternative to dependence on corrupt banks, an early form of credit union
  • Cooperative grain elevators to hold non-perishable crops until the optimal times to sell
  • An abortive effort to manufacture farm equipment; this venture depleted the Granger organization’s funds and was instrumental in its decline.

A major shortcoming of the movement was the failure to address what was probably the root cause of many farm ills—overproduction. There were too many farmers and too much productive land; the advent of new, mechanized equipment only exacerbated the difficulties. A few perceptive individuals recognized that flooding the market with produce only depressed prices further. Mary Elizabeth Lease of Kansas, one of the nation’s first female attorneys, traveled to grange halls and urged the farmers to “raise less corn and more hell.” Such pleas went largely unheeded, since most farmers preferred to blame the politicians, judges and bankers for their plight

The Grange as a political force peaked around 1875, then gradually declined. New organizations with more potent messages emerged, including the Greenback Party of the 1870s, the Farmers’ Alliances of the 1880s and the Populist Party of the 1890s.

The Grange had played an important role by demonstrating that farmers were capable of organizing and advocating a political agenda. After witnessing the eclipse of its advocacy efforts by other groups, the Grange reverted to its original educational and social events. These have sustained the organization to the present day.

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I remember attending Logan Grange in Pleasant Gap with my mother when I was young.  I participated in some of the programs and sang some, too.  Though I didn’t always appreciate going (all the pomp and circumstance was a bit much for me); there are some fond memories, too.


History of Grange Fair…


The Grange Fair began in 1874 when Leonard Rhone urged his Progress Grange to join their sister subordinate Granges in having a pic-nik to which they would invite their neighbors and introduce the Grange Organization and the benefits of membership in such a faternity. Since then, it’s grown into a real family tradition with some campers going back generation after generation.

Some “tenters” from long ago enjoying the Granger’s Pic-nik.







Even the size of the Fair has grown to include 1,000 tents, 1,500 RV’s, hundreds of concessions, over 7,000 exhibit items, amusement rides, livestock, tractor pulling and much more! Come to Centre Hall, PA and find out why so many folks wrap up every summer at Grange Park with the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.

We feature numerous exhibits, some sale items and some competition exhibits featuring the most talented artists, craftsmen, cooks, and bakers around.

We also host the top names in entertainment! The best part is, concerts are included in the price of admission!



The size of the fair, at this point, is why I called it my walking vacation.  My daughter’s motor home was in the overflow.  It took almost a half hour to walk to the grounds.  You could catch a tram and save on your legs; but you may have to wait 15 minutes; and because they go the whole way around; it may take you just as long to get to the grounds.


My son’s camper is in a much better location.  It is near the grandstand and the fair grounds.




This year marked the 143rd year of the Centre Hall Grange Encampment and Fair.  It was hard on my body; but I attended in keeping with the family tradition.  Here is a picture of my granddaughters and my great grandbabies.



Some people love the camping, some go to see the animals, some go to see the people, some go for the delicious food, (My year old great granddaughter, Isabella thinks Grange Fair hamburgs are the best)


Some people like the gambling or the rides.


Some like to take in the shows, the parade, talent shows, or the king and queen contests, some like to shop, some like the tractor and truck pulls, some like the horse shows; but all like the varied experience that Grange Fair offers.



Even though the 143rd Grange Fair was hard on my body; when the 144th rolls around, Lord willing, I will be there.  Why?  It’s tradition.


I hope you enjoyed reading about Grange Encampment and Fair and my walking vacation.  If you are ever in the vacinity of Centre Hall, PA in the latter part of August, just look for the signs and come on in.


At your service,






4 thoughts on “The Grange Encampment and Fair – My Walking Vacation

  1. I had never heard of The Grange Encampment and Fair before but luckily you have included the history part also, so now I know a lot!

    The grange fair sounds like something I would definitely make a tradition of, unfortunately, the distance is too much to go over (I live in Italy.)

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful family tradition you have. It warmed my heart and also made me think all the trips we made with our mobile home when I was young.
    Best wishes for the next years grange fair.


    • Hi Maria. 

      Thanks for your lovely comment.  Yes, the distance would make it a little difficult for you to attend.  Of course, if you have a camper or a motor home, you can park it in the overflow and stay for the week.  It may not be the ideal tourist vacation to the United States, though.  Lol.  I’ve only seen Italy in pictures; but it looks like a beautiful country.  Maybe some day I can visit your country.

      I’m happy to know that my post evoked happy memories from the past.  Thank you for your best wishes.

      I hope you stop by again soon.  I love company and my door is always open.


  2. Hi I came across your site and the Grange fair review. What a lovely heart warming story about your parents and your family tradition. It sounds like you live in a fabulous community. I just love the picture of your parents with their first great grandchild. Family is so important and keeping up with traditions helps
    to keep that bond strong. I will not be able to visit the fair as I am in the U.K.. But I will be visiting your site again soon.
    With Grace and Gratitude

    • Hi Karen. 

      Thanks for such a lovely comment. Yes, family is very important to me. I’m pleased you enjoyed reading about Grange Fair.  Maybe you will be able to visit the US sometime. I would like to visit U.K. Sometime. 

      I hope you will stop back soon. I love company!


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