John Brokenshire, chair of the horse racing and free entertainment committee, chats with Paul Reichart, board president, during the Bloomsburg Fair media day Wednesday at the fairgrounds.

BLOOMSBURG — The fairgrounds are “nearly” ready, according to Paul Reichart, president, Bloomsburg Fair. Still a little more than two weeks away, excitement is starting to build around the opening of the 163rd annual Bloomsburg Fair.

Flooding along Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna River weeks ago caused some problems in spots at the fairgrounds, nevertheless, crews quickly remedied the issues and all is nearly ready for the fair, Reichart reported. The fair kicks off Friday, Sept. 21.

The board hosted its annual media gathering Wednesday and took the time to spotlight new events at the fair, returning attractions and more. Columbia County Commissioner Chris Young explained the benefit the fair provides for the county, and larger community as a whole.

“I remember the year (2011) there was no fair,” said Young. “There was a real outcry... The most important thing about the fair is it’s about community. When you come to the Bloomsburg Fair, you see people you may not have seen in a while, or maybe only when you come to the fair. As many people as the fair brings in, it’s still about community.”

Last year, the fair attracted over 400,000 visitors Reichart noted. Nearly 1,200 vendors set up shop at the fair, which runs through Saturday, Sept. 29.

“I believe our Founding Fathers would be proud to see the growth of this fair,” said Reichart.

Among the new additions this year: Wine vendors. There’s also now premier seating for the grandstand entertainment. Seating can accommodate just over 1,900 and with premier seating, benches that used to accommodate 25 have been reduced to 20 to create more space for ticket holders.

Grandstand entertainment will for the first time feature a major act on the opening Friday. Rocker Daughtry takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Casting Crowns entertains Saturday, Sept. 23; Darci Lynne on Monday, Sept. 24; and country artist Cole Swindell headlines Tuesday, Sept. 25, with Kyle Mitchell. On Wednesday, Sept. 26, it’s Best in Show with performances by Rick Springfield and Eddie Money along with Greg Kihn and Tommy Tutone. Melissa Etheridge takes the stage Thursday, Sept. 27 and Vince Gill headlines Friday night, Sept. 28. Brett Eldredge with guests Devin Dawson and Abby Anderson close the main stage Saturday, Sept. 29.

To purchase tickets, fair officials recommend visiting the fair website www.bloomsburgfair.com to avoid paying higher prices through third-party ticketsellers.

Returning for the second year is the High School STEM competition. Competing schools include Berwick, Central Columbia, Danville, Hazleton, Midd-West, Millville, Montgomery and Shikellamy. Hosted by the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, prize money will be presented to the top-three schools — $10,000 to first, $5,000 to second and $2,500 to third — for advancement of the schools’ STEM programs.

George Sudol updated some of the collectibles for this year’s fair, including the coin, which will pay tribute to World War II veterans. Sudol noted one side of the coin will feature the Enola Gay while the other will feature the fair logo.

Additional features the fair is promoting include scans for phones where visitors can obtain maps, additional information and more. Entry ticket prices and parking are the same this year. Children under age 12 are admitted free each day. On Monday, seniors are admitted free with proof of age. Veterans and military, too, are admitted free Monday with proper ID. High school students ages 13-18 are admitted free Tuesday and Friday.

The Bloomsburg Fair is one of 109 fairs in Pennsylvania and one of the commonwealth’s largest.

For additional information, go to www.bloomsburgfair.com.

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