Fair time capsule

Charlene Vlasnik (left) and Denise Foltz, both of the 75th fair committee, show off a poster from the 50th Crawford County Fair.

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Pieces of Crawford County Fair history were unearthed Wednesday as a time capsule buried during the 50th anniversary fair was dug up and its contents examined.

Items dating back to 1995 were retrieved by fair and county officials from the metal cylinder that preserved them. The time capsule was buried close to the fairgrounds' information booth near a set of flagpoles.

Phyllis Carr, chair of the 75th Anniversary Committee, explained that the time capsule was supposed to be dug up at the 100th anniversary of the fair. However, after learning there was a chance water may have gotten into the capsule, the decision was made to dig it up early and have the artifacts inside stored above ground for the 100th anniversary.

Fortunately, while many of the items inside the capsule were damp, not much water damage was incurred. Stored editions of The Meadville Tribune were still readable, as was a fair pamphlet, poster and a fair book, though that last item had some signs of mold on it. Another folded poster was unable to be opened due to moisture making it stick together.

"We were very fortunate they stayed in the condition they were in," Carr said of the overall condition of the items. 

Fair officials plan to take advantage of the recent warm weather to dry out the artifacts before storing them.

The items inside the capsule were myriad, including a 50th anniversary shirt and hat, several photographs from the fair, and a copy of the Tribune from each day of the fair. Together, the stored artifacts related the story of the 1995 fair. Pamphlets told attendees of a musical performance by Billy Ray Cyrus, while photographs displayed the winning animals of yesteryear.

Carr said she was glad fair officials chose to open the time capsule ahead of schedule, as any longer period could have meant more water damage.

"This was to make sure we had something to show," she said.

The most interesting item to Carr was the one people likely found most informative back in 1995.

"Because I am interested in informing the fairgoers this year about what is going on at the fair, I think the most interesting item is the program for the full seven-day fair," she said.

The 1995 fair was the first one to run a full seven days, Carr said, making it a standout moment in Crawford County Fair history.

Besides fair officials, several other prominent figures were present for the time capsule's opening. All three Crawford County commissioners were there, as was Crawford County Historical Society President Josh Sherretts and Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Victoria Soff, who is also a member of the 75th Anniversary Committee.

Commissioner Francis Weiderspahn had been involved in the 1995 fair, a member of the dairy committee at the time. He said he enjoyed seeing the people who were involved in the fair then, and admitted he had trouble selecting a most interesting item from those stored in the capsule.

"It's pretty hard to pick one thing," he said.

Soff said she was surprised when she learned the 50th anniversary fair was in 1995, a fair she attended when she was younger.

For her, here favorite items from the time capsule were the copies of the Tribune.

"I just think the information from the papers of what was happening in the last week in August from 1995," she said.

For anyone wishing to view the items, they will be displayed at a dedication ceremony for the fairgrounds' new History Building on Aug. 22 at 5 p.m. The History Building will hold the 50th anniversary items until the 100th anniversary, and will also play host to the 75th anniversary time capsule.

Carr said the anniversary committee will likely use a tight plastic container to store the 75th time capsule, with the hopes of keeping it above ground to prevent any significant damage from occurring.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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