Tractor pulls and fireworks return to Newville this week when the Newville Lions Community Fair opens Thursday at the Lions Fairgrounds, 433 Shippensburg Road, Newville.
The 59th annual event runs Thursday through Saturday at the fairgrounds with some new entertainment and the return of the Miss Newville and Junior Miss pageants.
The three-day event opens at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with an assortment of food stands, rides, games and indoor vendors. Tom Yurasits will offer magic and illusion shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Miss Newville Pageant begins at 7 p.m.
On Friday, the Eclipse: The Ultimate Journey Tribute Band performs from 7:15 to 9:45 p.m., followed by the fireworks display at 10 p.m. Saturday’s schedule also includes the Junior Miss Pageant at 1 p.m. and the tractor pull at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free each night, and all proceeds benefit the local Lions Club and projects it supports.
Lions Club President Dan Brandt said Friday is typically the biggest night of the fair.
“The most popular thing at the Newville fair is the fireworks on Friday,” he said. “That’s what draws our biggest crowd — we have the biggest crowd by far on Friday evening. We have a band that night, and then we have fireworks later in the evening.”
“The big thing Saturday is the tractor pull. It’s our second biggest evening.”
While events like the fireworks display and tractor pull have become traditional fair events, Brandt said the fair committee is always looking for new attractions. This year, the Miss Newville and Junior Miss pageants return after not taking place for the past few years.
“They’re coming back this year because we have some Lions leaders who were interested in giving it a try,” he said. “We’re doing two pageants … (and) Thursday night will be a little different because we have a magician who’s doing two shows in the main building (before and after the Miss Newville Pageant). We’re hoping the two events can complement each other and strengthen Thursday night.”
Brandt said Friday’s band will provide a new sound, which he believes will also be a crowd-pleaser.
“It’s something a little higher profile than we’ve had before,” he said, adding his thanks to local businesses who stepped up to help sponsor the concert.
A full menu of food will be available each day, beginning at 5:30 p.m., as well as a limited menu Saturday during the Junior Miss contest. Free vision screenings will be offered Friday night.
There will also be bingo and 50/50 drawings, and the Lions Club will place collection boxes near the food stand for fair visitors to drop off used eyeglasses and hearing aids.
“They really focus on preschool children,” Brandt said of the vision screenings. “We think that if we can catch problems before kids get in school, it will be an advantage to them.”
Brandt said all proceeds benefit the Newville Lions Club with most of the money going back to projects in the Newville area.
“There are other Lions activities outside of the (Newville) area which we support,” he said, mentioning Beacon Lodge, a camp in Juniata County for special needs children, and national disaster relief efforts. “But most of the money stays in Newville.”
When the fair ends Saturday, Brandt said it won’t be long until he and other committee members begin looking at the 2019 event.
“The first thing we do is to look at what could have gone better — what did we do right, and what could we have done better. Then we begin talking about the next year soon after that.”
In addition to looking at areas for improvement, plans for future fairs also focus on tradition. Brandt said there have been changes over the years, but tradition is the root of the fair’s success.
“Over the years, it (the fair) has been modified as the community has changed,” he said. “When it started, it was basically a horse show. So although we may not change things every year, it has been modified as the community has changed in an attempt to give the community what they’re looking for.”