ALLENTOWN, PA — Highlighting its roots and reason for being, The Great Allentown Fair held its annual “Agriculture Recognition Night” during the 2016 fair to honor accomplished students and adults that have contributed to Pennsylvania’s number one industry.
The ceremony was held recently inside the Agri-Plex exhibition building sponsored by Lehigh Valley Health Network while the fair was in full swing. Each year, it shines a spotlight on the mission of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society (LCAS), the fair’s 164-year-old operator, to improve and advance agriculture, horticulture, livestock, domestic and mechanical arts.
LCAS President Beverly Gruber served as master of ceremonies and gave details about each of the award recipient’s contributions to the agricultural community. She brought on stage family members of persons for whom the awards were dedicated.
In its second year, a $1,000 scholarship to honor the memory of William F. Greenawald, LCAS president from 2005 until his passing in 2008, was awarded to Olivia Geiger of Schnecksville, PA. Olivia is a 2016 graduate of Parkland High School. She has been participating in the Allentown Fair since she was a little girl, and started entering in 4-H at age eight. Presently, she is pursuing an Occupational Therapy degree at Elizabethtown College.
Four awards annually go to 4-H and FFA participants in the names of seven deceased members of the Ag Society: Reuben S. Geiger, Clydan Handwerk, Frank H. Krause, Richard E. Miller, Rewellien Mohr, Raymond O’Neill, and Charles J. Rutz, who were dedicated to the fair. This year’s 4-H winners were Bailey Vassallo, Slatington, PA and Kendall Graff, Germansville, PA. Both 4-H recipients are accomplished young farmers and fair exhibitors. The awards that acknowledge FFA contributions went to Kennedi Cavalier of the Kutztown, PA Chapter and Kayla Fusselman of the Kempton, PA Chapter. Both of these young women are active and accomplished in their respective schools and in their communities.
The family of Richard E. Miller, who served as secretary of the Ag Society for many years, contributed two $250 scholarships in his memory that recognize high academic records of a 4-H and FFA member. The 4-H honor went to Olivia Geiger, Schnecksville, PA. She is attending Elizabethtown College. The FFA recipient was Morgan Kunkel from Kempton, PA, a student at Kutztown High School.
The recurring Ben Lazarus Award, named in the memory of a former fair livestock exhibitor, was bestowed on Aliza Nyce, Germansville, PA. This monetary award recognizes an Allentown Fair animal exhibitor that is 17 to 23 years old. Aliza, a Northwestern High School senior, has shown dairy beef and market steers.
The June M. Stas Supreme Baking Award was presented to Rosemary Childs of Allentown, PA for her Chocolate Covered Coconut Cream Candy. This award, along with the Preserved Product Award are for $250 and are given by June M. Stas and her family, long time exhibitors at the Great Allentown Fair. A lovely display of six jars of jelly and jam was the winner of the June M. Stas Superior Preserved Product Award. The winning exhibitor was Coral Grace Hicks from Bethlehem, PA.
Each year, a special plaque is awarded by the family of Mae Rutz in honor of her devotion to the Ag Society. She was the first woman board member and superintendent of Ag Hall. Patricia Foucault from Palmerton, PA won the award for her beautiful cross-stitch picture in the Needlework category.
In recognition of her pencil sketch self-portrait, Jana Yenser from Allentown was the winner of the $250 award in the memory of Bill E. Serfass that honors an outstanding youth competing in the fair’s competitive exhibits which include needlework, crafts, woodwork, baked products, flowers, art and sewing.
The newly selected Allentown Fair Queen, Juliet Long of New Tripoli, PA, was presented her scholarship award from the Lehigh-Northampton Pomona Grange #68. The presentation was made by the Grange President, Leonard Heim. Juliet is a sophomore at Grove City College.
The Lehigh County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award went to Jeff Zehr of Boyertown, PA. As the Director of Lehigh County’s Farmland Preservation Program, Jeff has led the effort to preserve close to 22,000 acres of Lehigh County Farmland since the program started in 1989. He currently serves on the board of the Seed Farm, Lehigh County’s new farmer training program and agri-business development center.
A special thank you goes to Lisa-Jon Trinidad, Allentown Fair Ag Ed Superintendent, for organizing the presentation of colors and singing for the event.
Each year the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture presents a “Friend of the Fair” award to an individual or group who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to the success of the fair. The 2016 award, which was presented during the opening ceremony, went to Donald Reinert from Lenhartsville, PA. Donald, a retired Vo-Ag teacher in the Kutztown School District, was a Lehigh County 4-H member in his youth. He has worked in the livestock department at the Great Allentown Fair for the past 45 years, helping all exhibitors, as well as encouraging his FFA students to bring their entries to Allentown to exhibit.
The Lehigh County Ag Society would like to congratulate the many award winners.