July 23, 2011



In the early spring of 1950, Edna Groff approached Sadie Greenleaf, then County Farm Women president, with the idea of starting a fair in the Solanco community. In May of 1950, the six local farm women groups met at the Quarryville fire hall to further explore the idea. With many ideas and much enthusiasm they continued forward.

Sadie wrote letters to the county agent, the Solanco High School principal and agriculture department head, local banks and local service organizations such as the Lions Club, Grange, Rotary, etc. asking for support. All agreed to back the movement. She arranged for a community meeting to be held on June 28, 1950, for all interested parties to attend.

At the meeting it was decided to press on and they organized with Stanley Mussleman as first President. Sadie agreed to coordinate the food sales, a post she held for over 20 years. Edna Groff agreed to be the first secretary and the other various officers and directors were elected and it was decided to prepare to have the first Fair in September of 1950.

Jerome H. Rhoads offered the free use of his property , and the Quarryville Fire Co., C. E. Wiley Farm Equip., Newswanger Furniture and later I. Diller Miller offered free use of their buildings for displays.

On September 21, 1950, Southern Lancaster County Fair Association was officially opened by William Fredd and Sadie Greenleaf. The Farm Women groups manned the food stands and served dinners in the fire hall basement. They donated most of the food and all of their time and it was from this income that most of the expenses were paid.

The officers and directors felt from the start, and included in the bylaws, that no gambling or concessionaires would be allowed nor would carnival type activities be permitted so that the Fair always maintain its agricultural/family roots.

Activities at that first Fair included a Fair Queen contest, baby parade, tractor driving contest, amateur show, log sawing contest, and entertainment by the Solanco High School band.

Food Menu from one of the first years of the FairAfter the first year, community enthusiasm and much organization made each year bigger and better. 1952 saw the first Wednesday evening parade and 1957 saw the Lions Club and their French Fries appear on the scene. In 1960 the extremely popular milkshake stand made its debut.

In 1966, due to expansion of businesses onto the property and Fair growth, it was moved to Legion Park with exhibits being kept in trailers donated by Winnie Hogg and Ben Herr. Soon thereafter the Fair Association purchased 5 acres of ground adjoining the park. In 1975 the first permanent Fair Association building was erected. The Hoffman Building was built and named after John Hoffman and his wife for all the financial support and time they contributed to the Fair over the years. The building contains the Fair office, kitchen and community hall which can hold approximately 300 people.

The next land purchase was made in 1982, when 19 acres was purchased for approximately $25,000.00. This purchase included a right of way to a major highway allowing 2 access points to the grounds.

In the time period of 1975-1985 a series of livestock pole buildings were added. The 3 buildings accommodated dairy and beef cattle.

The next building was constructed in 1985. It measured 4000 square feet and was complete with kitchen and restrooms. The building currently is leased long term to the Solanco Area Senior Citizens; however, it houses sewing and needlepoint exhibits at Fair time.

In 1987 a large show barn measuring 60’x 152’ was added. This building houses the swine exhibits and is complete with a show arena and bleacher style seating for the audience. That same year a 12’x20’ funnel cake stand was added to the grounds by Farm Women Group #15.

The next addition to the grounds was a 50’x148’ building to house floral, baked goods, canned goods, vegetables, fruits, nuts, apiary, hay, and grain exhibits. Another addition to the grounds came in 2000 when the largest structure to date was added. The 72’x232’ building houses all dairy, sheep, beef, and rabbit exhibits and includes a show ring with seating.

In 2003 a 20’x40’ building was added to sell and promote dairy products. As you read over the history of the Fair, you can see many long hours have been invested by many local volunteers to erect buildings and improve the grounds to make the Fair what it is today. All of the buildings are available for rent to generate income for the Fair Association.

The parade is always a big draw. The tradition of selecting a grand marshal began in 1997 with John Hoffman. Since then the Grand Marshals of the Parade have been Sadie Greenleaf  (1998); Helen Snyder (1999); Betty Kreider & Arlene Rohrer (2000); Esther Herr (2001); Sam & Jean Kreider (2002); Lester & Mary Keener (2003); Clayton & AnnaBell Wiley (2004); Dean Wert (2005); Eleanor & Jim Kreider (2006); and Richard & Anna Jane Glisson (2007).

The Solanco Fair is not only a vital part of the Southern End community, but also reflects the spirit and values of the people living in the Quarryville area. Dedicated citizens volunteer their time and talents throughout the year to ensure a successful event. At the Fair they can be found diligently working to supervise the many behind the scenes details that make the event run like a well oiled machine. Many of these families with last names like Akers, Delong, Frey, Groff, Greenleaf, Hastings, Hess, Herr, Kreider, Long, Rutt, Trimble, Wagner, Welk and Young are involved in the event now just as they were in 1950. It is with deep appreciation that we say thank you to these friends, businesses, and community organizations.

PDA Sec. Dennis Wolff visits the Solanco FairOver the years, the Fair has added improvements to the grounds as well as to the entertainment lineup. Several years ago a double tractor pull track was added and the antique and classic pulls have been very popular. Other events like the celebrity invitational milking contest, baby parade, tug of war, and peanut scramble still attract young and old alike. The Fair parade ends the first day of our 3 day Fair. It is held on Wednesday evening and draws between ten and fifteen thousand spectators. The parade contains many bands, floats, and exhibits of all kinds.

While the Fair Association works to see that the Solanco Fair changes to meet the needs of the growing community, it is also a source of pride that the Fair retains much of the same community spirit, volunteer dedication and agricultural heritage as that of the very first Fair.

A great many people have been involved in the demanding job of editing the annual fair book. From the first one with Madison McElwain through people like Ernest Reynolds, Hiram Troop, and Marlene Eckman, a great many people have put great amounts of time into its annual publication. The present editor, Ron Althoff has been an assistant or the editor since 1978.

This site is the official website of the Southern Lancaster County Fair Association.