By Mary Spicer
Wearing their navy corduroy FFA jackets, five FFA members served as hosts for a tour of the Crawford County Fair barns for a special visitor Thursday: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Corbett, wearing denim jeans and a plaid shirt, was greeted by applause from county elected officials, fair board members and others as he arrived for his first visit to the fair as governor.
Escorted by state Secretary of Agriculture George Greig and his wife, Christine, the governor quickly followed the young students as they led him into the first barn, which housed the goats. Corbett stopped to pet a goat before moving to the next barn where Ellie Klink of Hartstown showed the governor her animals, which have captured many awards and ribbons over the years. Corbett questioned the teen about farming and her life as a young farmer.
Klink told the governor she lives on a family farm and Corbett noted that the Legislature has passed a bill eliminating state inheritance tax on family farms. “I hope she gets a chance at it,” he said of the teen’s plan to farm in the future.
The young FFA members then escorted the governor to the next barn where the swine were housed and many youngsters stepped up to have their pictures taken with the governor and told him about their various animals.
Greig explained to the governor the difference between FFA and 4-H, noting FFA once stood for Future Farmers of America but was changed to reflect just the initials. He continued to say that the FFA is more than learning about farming and also includes educational programs, public speaking and other subjects. It is operated through schools where 4-H is operated through the Cooperative Extension Service and is run by volunteers.
Greig told the governor as a child, he was an FFA member and grew up on a farm and he and his brother operated a farm together. Among other exhibits the governor stopped to view was that of Greig’s daughter, Rachel, also an FFA member and an exhibitor at the fair.
The entourage continued touring many of the barns and the governor spoke with many of the young exhibitors and visitors to the fair alike before the FFA members escorted him to the Youth Show Arena for a special ceremony.
Based on the response from many of the teens, the governor’s visit was a great memory. After one young teen had her picture taken, she exclaimed with glee, “I just had my picture taken with the GOVERNOR of Pennsylvania.”
Although it was Gov. Corbett’s first visit to the Crawford County Fair, he was not the first sitting governor to come to the Crawford County Fair. His predecessor, Ed Rendell, also visited the fair while he was governor. And, Gov. Tom Ridge was a visitor during the fair’s 50th year celebration and participated in the big parade.
The eight-day Crawford County Fair is 68 years old and runs through Saturday.