Open Show offers classes for everyone

REEDSVILLE – The Open Show at the Mifflin County Youth Fair offers competition for everyone – even adults.

The show is organized annually by a group of volunteers and 4-H alumni. It’s held in collaboration with youth competitions in August at the Youth Park in Reedsville.

Sonieta Harrop, Open Show organizer, said the show began years ago but was nearly dropped from the fair’s schedule when its original organizer stepped down. When she heard the fair was not going to have an Open Show, Harrop, along with volunteer Jean Savitts, decided to keep the show going. This decision became especially important when the Mifflin County Youth Fair Board applied to be recognized as a state fair. All recognized fairs must have open competition, Harrop said.

“I’ll never forget that meeting that we voted and decided to do an open show,” she recalled.

About 12 years later, Harrop is still actively involved in organizing the annual exhibition, along with her daughter, Rebecca Harrop, and the rest of the show committee.

The show boasts competitions of every kind – dairy, wool, eggs, grain and seed crops, vegetables, fruit and nuts, home-produced products, floral exhibits, evergreens and more.

Participants may also enter sponsored baking contests for a chance to qualify for competition at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in January in Harrisburg.

“You don’t have to be a farm person (to compete),” Sonieta said, adding that the Open Show provides an avenue for people who are “non-farm” to enter their creations.

Tuesday evening, the show hosts a cash-and-carry baked good auction to sell perishable foods entered in competition. Competitors also may enter non-perishable products in the fair’s general auction slated for Saturday.

Each department provides premiums for winners and the organizers said there is a miscellaneous department in which to enter projects or handicrafts not covered in specified departments.

“If you’re old enough to pick up a hoe or clang knitting needles together … you can show it in the open show,” Sonieta said. “It’s really for everyone.”

The annual show and auction requires months of preparation, she said. From maintaining the show’s computer system and entries to soliciting and thanking auction sponsors, Sonieta and Rebecca said they’re on the job all year.

“I just enjoy helping,” Rebecca said, adding that she has been assisting with the show and auction since she was a 4-H’er herself.

“Between shows, I’d come help,” she said.

Sonieta shares her daughter’s interest in helping others and said putting on the show is a team effort between committee members.

“I just like providing an avenue for families to come together,” she said. “To show something you made with your own hands.”.

Open Show registration will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 4-6 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. today in the Green Building at the Youth Park in Reedsville. All perishable items must be pre-registered today but can be placed on display between 8-8:45 a.m. Tuesday. Judging will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The building reopens to the public after judging is complete.

The cash-and-carry baked good auction will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Green Building.