The current Derry Township Agricultural Fair (DTAF) had its humble beginnings in 1987. Though the efforts of Chuck Penich and Dr. Randall Campbell the fair was granted space to set up one of the Derry High School practice fields. They started with a couple of small tents, a few local vendors and exhibitors. By 1990, the fair had out grown the space at the High School and was in need of more space to expand.
Approached by the fair, for the possible use of their land were Joseph (Shorty) and Mary Durika. Who owned a farm just outside of New Derry. Both had grown up on farms and been involved with 4-H as youths. They knew the importance of promoting agriculture and providing learning experiences for today’s youths. After careful thought and consideration, Shorty and Mary decided to donate 10 acres of their farm to the fair, to use six days a year in the month of July for the annual fair – all with a gentlemen’s agreement and hand shake.
Year after year, fair members, community volunteers and friends of the fair would gather to volunteer their time, resources and equipment, to roll out the wire and set up the tents and get the fair going. As each year passed, the fair continued to grow. In the fall of 1996, with the permission of the Durikas, the fair’s first grant was received for the installation of a city water line extension over the farm and city water lines were installed over the grounds. Saving some cost to the fair in not having to have water trucked in.
At the same time, a ten year lease agreement was signed and having outgrown the original 10 acres, an additional 10 acres was added to the agreement for parking and the use of the farm pond for a bass tournament.
As the fair continued to grow, the fair board asked to begin creating a more permanent home. In 2001 a new horse barn was built. An entertainment stage and outdoor arena were also built.
Sadly, in August 2004, Shorty passed away. Sarah Noone, age 16, as part of her fair project, designed a memorial garden to honor Shorty. With the help of her parents and fair members, the garden was built in time for dedication at the 2005 fair. Also a memorial scholarship was started in Shorty’s name. The scholarship is awarded each year to a DTAF youth exhibitor on merit, who is receiving or will receive a post high school education at a college or trade school. Later, a second scholarship was added, going to the winner of the Queen Contest.
The home economics/fair office building was built in 2006. In 2008, a wash bay for animals was constructed and a cement slab put down for another permanent building that had yet to be built. 2010, Ligonier Stone and Lime and Kencove Farm Fence Supply donated material and time to rebuild the outdoor arena, now known as Kencove Arena. 2011 saw the addition of a Spring Bunny Fest to benefits the Queen Program and a Fall Festival as a fundraiser for the fair.
In 2012, the Derry Township Agricultural Fair celebrated its 25th anniversary. The fair has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1987. With continued support from local, county and state leaders, businesses, DTAF members, volunteers and community residents, the fair will continue to grow and serve Derry and surrounding communities long into the future. The fair will also continue to provide today’s youth with a chance to learn responsibility and hard work and provide them with leadership skills and work ethic, which they will need to compete in tomorrow’s world.
The DTAF association would like to thank all past and present members for the fair for their time, resources and equipment they volunteered or donated to the fair to help keep the fair going.
The DTAF would also like to thank all the businesses and individuals that have made monetary donations, sponsored events, donated to scholarships or donated equipment or other resources to the fair for use during fair week. In addition, we thank the local, county and state officials that have helped us secure funding and/or grants over the years. Also, we thank the businesses and individuals that contribute to our other fund raising projects; the October Fall Festival, November Cash Bash, March Gun Bash and the Spring Bunny Fest.
Special thanks to those who contributed recipes, photographs and advertisements for our cookbook. The DTAF asks that community residents support the businesses and individuals that support your community fair.
The DTAF has lost many members and friends over the years; we honor and remember them here.