Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Fair Retrospectives

Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Fair Retrospectives

Fair Retrospectives offers memories, support in the face of modifications, cancellations

The COVID-19 pandemic changed many community events in the spring and summer of 2020, and those changes are continuing into the fall.  In many towns and cities across Pennsylvania fall fairs and festivals are longstanding, historical events that citizens look forward to and businesses rely upon.  When Curt Dreibelbis, publisher of Juniata Sentinel, Perry County Times, Duncannon Record and Newport News-Sun, learned that the 2020 Perry County and Juniata County fairs were not proceeding as planned, he knew that he and his team needed to take action.  The team arrived upon an intermittent solution to carry the community in the face of the pandemic’s effects on the treasured fairs: special sections referred to as Fair Retrospectives.

Dreibelbis said the Fair Retrospectives special sections for each fair, planned for August 26 and 27 for Perry and September 2 for Juniata, will look as much like past years as possible – with the understanding that in the case of the Perry County fair, the event itself will not be taking place, and in the case of the Juniata County fair the event will be scaled down to adhere to social distancing and safety regulations.  “We are trying to maintain our publications’ look and schedule as closely to previous years as possible because we think our readers appreciate the consistency and normalcy that provides,” said Dreibelbis. “Where we can’t do what we used to we will try to get a placeholder or substitute to remind the community that we are still here and both the fairs and our special sections will hopefully be back in our ‘normal’ form next year.”  The Perry County Fair, originally set for Newport on August 18-22, was cancelled altogether. The Juniata County Fair, set for September 5 to 12 in Port Royal, will continue in an adapted form to adhere to social distancing and safety regulations. The fair will still have its storied auto races; however it will have no children’s activities or rides and limited concessions.

The Perry County Times and Juniata Sentinel have archives that provide photographs and articles about the fairs dating back nearly as long their respective 50+ and 166-year histories. Dreibelbis and his team will use the archives as a framework for the special sections.  In addition to the archived pictures and stories, Dreibelbis said the board of directors for the fairs were very supportive and would be including their usual ads in the sections while many of the supporters of the fairs were also placing ads. “They might be placing a smaller ad this year, but they see the value of showing their support and staying in front of the readers,” said Dreibelbis, “Some of these companies only advertise for the fair, so this is important for us as much as it is for them that they stay on board (in the special section) this year.”

The typical fair special section averaged 40 pages, and Dreibelbis said the Fair Retrospective sections should be about half to two-thirds of that length.  He said that while it isn’t the full length of the normal section, it is a better alternative to a complete lack of the section – for the publications and the communities they serve.  “Knowing how important the fairs are to our counties, we’re trying to support the community,” said Dreibelbis. “We’re all trying to get through this (pandemic) together, and hopefully in 10 years it will just be a distant memory.”

For additional information, contact Curt Dreibelbis at 717-582-4305 or