Cammy Visits: The West End Fair

(August 24, 2023)

I imagine there's a lot of places in the US that have something like the West End Fair, something where farms and farm kids come to show off their animals and produce, but I always look forward to ours. They've got chainsaw sculpture carving, tons to eat (even if it's a bit expensive), lots of neat historical artifacts to see, and syrup! We always take home a bottle or two of shagbark hickory syrup from Bee Creek, trying all the flavors at their little vendor table and pretending we never have before.

This year's was a bit wet, and I was worried the rain would prevent me from taking any pictures. Thankfully, it held out for the two hours or so we were there, and aside from some puddles and wet benches, it was a pretty dry affair—the weather, not the event.

Chainsaw sculptures

The old chainsaw carver guy retired last year! Very glad we got to see him, he had a real nice stage presence and played classic rock while he worked. The new guy wasn't quite as charismatic, and sadly no music, but he was still super talented with that chainsaw. They carve out all these garden decorations right in front of you, and on the final day, they auction them off to the community. I bet they go for some hundreds of dollars apiece, so we'll never own one, but they sure are cute to look at. Lookit the raccoon in the trash can!


There's a specific open-air stable somewhere in the back of the fair for all the animals. Lots of your typical farm ones, lots of goats, but I was most psyched about the rabbits. I don't know why there's so many damn rabbits at this fair, but they had a big room of them and I was very excited to see them.

(There's also exhibitions for children's science projects and such in some of the other buildings, more focused on pets and butterflies and the like. There were fake guinea pigs there as part of a display, but they had 'em solitary and in cages and I didn't want to bum Caby out getting a picture of them. They need to be in pairs in big enclosures!)

Competitive produce

I like to imagine the competitive produce growing scene in my area is really cutthroat. A lot of the same names kept appearing as the winners, probably because most people don't casually keep aubergines. There were also competitions for produce-based products too, like jars of jams, not that I know how you grade a glass jar of yummy goop.

Arts and crafts

Other competitions were being held for illustrations, sculptures, and little crafted scenes! Some of it was adorable (like that candy corn graveyard), some of it was super cool looking (I got a bunch of pictures of bits of bead art, like pixel art on paper—that elephant? Goddamn), and some of it, not to be mean to the kids making these or anything, was just kinda amusing (that one guy looks like a reaction image).

I was a little bummed out to see so many green participation ribbons—I just feel like I'd be embarrassed seeing that on my submission. Have them out, certainly, but just give them nothing if they didn't win, I dunno. That said, I didn't get any pictures of those, so enjoy all the cool shit instead.

(Also, the autumn display wasn't part of any arts and crafts submissions—I think that was actually something put together by a veteran's association in the area, if I recall correctly.)

NEPA history

I think right next door to the chainsaw carver stage is this little museum building of historical northeast Pennsylvania displays. Phone booths, old-school real record albums (as in, an accordion box of 78s), handmade wheelchairs, ancient washing machines, Howdy Doody... It's a nice way for all this handcrafted stuff to live on, though the donation book was dozens of pages long, so I wonder where they're keeping it all.

Other fair shots

These don't fit anywhere else! But they do set the scene nicely. Anyone want an elephant ear now? We had to explain elephant ears to one of the guys at my store back when the fair was going on. It's just funnel cake with a funny shape, I think. (Shoutout to the guy sleeping behind the rubber duck pool. I wonder where he is today.)