Farmers’ Fair Is More Dillsburg Than The Pickle

Farmers’ Fair is this coming weekend, and I’m not going to be there.

For me, there will be no fire hall displays. No parades or antique cars. And, I definitely will not be enjoying any deep fried funnel cake or catfish nuggets.

Instead, about the time everyone in Dillsburg jockeys for a position at the Fantastic Parade, I’ll be sitting down for supper in the pleasant California sunshine.

What’s worse is that I haven’t attended Farmers’ Fair in years. And, for someone who grew up in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, that’s pretty sad. Here’s why:

Without a doubt, there is nothing more Dillsburg than Farmers’ Fair. Yes, there is Dill’s Tavern as well as the Pickle. They are all Dillsburg too. But, can they really claim to pull the community together as much as the fair does?

To put it another way, there are many things that make our communities unique – the people we see each day, the places and homes we live in, even the events and stories that unfold. All of these become a part of us. We carry them throughout our lives where ever we may go.

In a previous post, I considered the inherent human desire to connect and remember together. Even as our world becomes increasingly urban, we still search for commonalities with one another and want to share these in a meaningful way. It stems from a time when people lived in smaller, more closely knit communities.

This is exactly what makes Farmers’ Fair so important. In the nearly 100 years since it began as a celebration of the fall harvest, the fair has seen Dillsburg and the surrounding area change drastically.

Perhaps it started with the building of modern Route 15. The highway bypassed the downtown and initiated a wave of development that continues to this day. Whatever the case, the results are clear. Farms and farmers have gradually given way to suburbs and commuters, making the name Farmers’ Fair seem like more of a misnomer.

Yet the fair continues to thrive, growing a little more each year. This is because Farmers’ Fair is bigger than any one occupation. For some, it’s simply a way to enjoy the weekend and have fun. While for others, it’s an occasion to reunite with old friends and catch up.

However, there is one thing that Farmers’ Fair is for everybody in Dillsburg – and that is a common connection. Not only does the fair provide a link to the past, it also creates a thread that ties everyone in the community together. More than anything else, Farmers’ Fair is what makes us all identify as Dillsburg, regardless of what subdivision, township, or even state we may live in.

I say this with all due respect to the Pickle.


Update: There have been a few questions about whether it is Farmers Fair, Farmer’s Fair, or Farmers’ Fair. I texted my good friend Clint Shearer whose father happens to be Carl Shearer, President of the Dillsburg Community Fair Association. The official name is Farmers Fair with no apostrophe. The punctuation was dropped a few years back.


  1. I’m hoping to hit Baltimore Street tonight for the Children’s Parade (as the vast majority of participants are my students). I’ll sample something fried for you and make sure to spend an extra few minutes gazing at the oversized gourds. :-)

  2. Remember your first Farmer’s Fair…the Children’s Parade? You dressed in your wee colonial uniform, I in my big colonial uniform and we waved flags walking down the street. I believe you got first prize!!

  3. I found your blog through Scott Wickard’s Facebook post; and wanted to say thanks. I am sitting here in Germany reading it, but wishing I were back home in Dillsburg this weekend for Farmers Fair. Crazy, but I miss our hometown event and our people. Thanks for sharing!

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