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Smith Steps Up to Fair Position

By Staff | Jan 20, 2009

When the Lycoming County Fair kicks off July 16, it will do so without two of its longtime movers and shakers.

And that’s not the only big change in the works. This year’s fair will see an increase in the entrance fee, but that also will cover rides.

Robert Heydenreich has stepped down as fair association president and been replaced by Hughesville resident Jack Smith. Heydenreich will continue as association director.

Heydenreich’s wife Mary Ann, who served as association secretary and director, died in November.

The Heydenreichs had been active in the association since the 1970s, Smith said. Mary Ann Heydenreich served as secretary since 1984 and Robert Heydenreich was president since 2001.

Smith said it would be hard to calculate how much the Heydenreichs contributed to the success of the fair over the years.

“Mary Ann was born into this thing,” Smith said. “When Bob married Mary Ann, I think (the fair) was part of the marriage, too.

“(Robert) did so much stuff behind the scenes that even the board didn’t know about,” Smith said. “He just got the job done – he and his wife both.”

Last year, Mary Ann was named Person of the Year by the Pennsylvania Fair Association, he said.

Smith is a lifelong resident of Hughesville who comes from a long line of fair workers.

“My father was on the fair board for a number of years and my mother was poultry supervisor for 27 years,” he said.

Smith said he is excited to be association president, but added the job is one that has its year-round demands.

“Many people think the day of the fair we turn a key and open up and that’s it,” he said. “There are so many things to do all year – building improvements and repairs, lining up entertainment, lining up concessions and vendors. Those things are going on all the time.

“There are matching funds that need to be raised and grant (applications),” he said. “There is always a leaky roof that needs repaired, always a broken window that needs replaced or painting that needs to be done.”

Smith said he helped build the fair’s dairy barn and new entertainment pavilion and always has been “hands-on in helping to improve the fairgrounds.”

He most enjoys working with people and the hectic pace of the fair once it opens.

“There are challenges. Almost hourly someone has a problem – someone has a broken a spigot or circuit breaker,” he said. “I enjoy that.”

Smith said the association board works hard to make sure the fair operates smoothly.

He said fair-goers this year can expect to see some changes. For one thing, the cost is being changed so that admission and rides are “pay-one-price.” Details still are being worked out, Smith said.

Previously, general admission and rides were paid for separately, he said.

The cost of grandstand and bleacher shows is separate, he said.

According to Smith, there is plenty to like about the fair. He said the association continually strives to make it better.

“The food at the fair is extraordinary. We try to get displays showing new technologies such as wind generators and solar power,” he said. “We try to get family-oriented vendors.”

The association has contracted with a new carnival company, which should “breathe new life” into the carnival portion of the fair, he said.

The fair is set for July 16 to 25.