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Monday, September 3, 2012


Big 50: Luzerne County Fair pays tribute to past
 
By Kristen Gaydos (Staff Writer)
from: thetimes-tribune.com
Published: September 3, 2012
Dallas, PA--The Luzerne County Fair travels back in time this year to celebrate its 50th anniversary - with a little help from some musical friends.
 This year's lineup harkens back to the fair's first days in the early 1960s, with entertainers like Charlie Thomas' Drifters and Shawn Klush, Northeast Pennsylvania's own Elvis impersonator. Festivities begin Wednesday at the Luzerne County fairgrounds in Lehman Twp.
 "Charlie Thomas' Drifters, they did 'Under the Boardwalk,' ... We've got Jon Bauman, Bowzer from Sha Na Na," said Brenda Pugh, fair spokeswoman and board vice president. "We're sending everybody a little bit back in time."
 The fair debuted in 1963 as a one-day shindig called the Dallas Rotary Club Fair. Half a century later, the fair has grown into a five-day event that nabbed the regional Fair of the Year designation at the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs convention in January.
Through name changes, land expansions and new exhibitions, one thing remains the same - the reaction from the fair's youngest patrons. The moment children first set eyes on the fair setup is Ms. Pugh's favorite thing about the annual event.
 "When we open the gates and the kids walk through, and their eyes light up, it makes you realize what all the hard work was for," she said

New items
 This year's fair combines some new entertainment, exhibitions and vendors with many old favorites. New this year is Elvis impersonator and Pittston native Mr. Klush, whose performance with Sweet Inspirations, one of Elvis' longtime backing bands, closes the fair on Sunday.
 Mr. Klush recently performed at the Elvis 35th Anniversary concert in Memphis, Tenn., last month, where family members, friends and fans came together to mark the anniversary of Mr. Presley's death. He said it was an honor to be included, as well as a testament to the quality of his performance.
 "We play all over the world," he said with a tinge of Memphis drawl. "We're incredibly lucky."
 There is no age divide when it comes to the King, Mr. Klush said. People of all ages are drawn to his signature style and vocals.
 "For a man that's been gone 35 years, he's actually jumped generations," he said.
 "Everyone seems to be pretty excited about it," Ms. Pugh said. "Our phones are going crazy."
 
 

The performer, billed as "the closest thing to the King in concert," will perform with the Sweet Inspirations, the background group that recorded and performed with Elvis Presley from the late 1960s until his death. Founding member Cissy Houston, mother of the late Whitney Houston, will not be in attendance, Ms. Pugh said.
 Charlie Thomas' Drifters will perform the first night of the fair. The group features singer Charlie Thomas, a member of the original Drifters from 1958 to 1967. He sang lead on two of the group's top 40 hits, "Sweets For My Sweet" and "When My Little Girl Is Smiling." The Drifters' other hits included "There Goes My Baby," "Up on the Roof," and "This Magic Moment." The group also includes Louis Bailey, nephew of singer Pearl Bailey and son of tap dancer Bill Bailey, Ms. Pugh said.
 The lineup for Thursday features more current hits from country and rock cover band Tommy Guns. On Friday, it's back to the '90s with rockers The Badlees and cover band That 90s Band. Sunday, the final day of the fair, kicks off with a tour of rock and roll from '50s to the '90s courtesy of Rick K and the Allnighters. Mr. Klush will wrap things up as the Sunday night headliner.
 Ms. Pugh first got involved with the Luzerne County Fair about 25 years ago as a vendor - her family sold two-way radios, pagers and police vehicle lights. She currently handles the fair's publicity, talking up the event and all it has to offer - which is more than ever.
 "It has grown a lot," she said. "We started waiting lists for vendors."
 Vendor Cheri Bissinger of Bloomsburg, owner of Bissinger's Catering, has been lucky to snag a spot for the past 13 years selling homemade apple dumplings. It is easy to remember how long she has been with the fair because she was pregnant with her son when she started.
 "Now he's 13 years old," she said. "I like the small county fairs. I like the emphasis on 4-H (at the Luzerne County Fair) as well."
 The fair is also a family tradition for Ms. Bissinger, whose parents began selling treats at the Bloomsburg Fair about 50 years ago. She makes the dumplings at the stand using her own recipe and serves them with fresh vanilla or cinnamon ice cream from Manning Farm Dairy in Clarks Summit.
 "It comes right from the farm to us. When you say farm-fresh, you're literally not kidding," she said.
read more:
http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles-people/big-50-luzerne-county-fair-pays-tribute-to-past-1.1366578
 

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