News Column

10 great things for kids at Allentown Fair

August 24, 2014

By Kathy Lauer-Williams, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Aug. 24--Nothing heralds the end of summer like the Allentown Fair -- the smell of kettle corn, the thrill of the Ferris wheel and the stalls of lowing cows.. Here are 10 ways families can make the most of the fair:

1. FRESH BEAT BAND

The Fresh Beat Band, a troupe of Nickelodeon Jr. stars, drew more than 9,000 fans and their families to the fair in 2012, and now they are back with an updated show.

The band's characters, Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout, will perform in the fair's final grandstand concert at 6:30 p.m.Aug. 31.

The new tour is tagged "The Beat is Back." It will include some of the group's favorite songs including "Bananas" and "Here We Go," along with new songs such as a remixed version of "Great Day" and a cover of the Bangles' "Walk like an Egyptian."

Nickelodeon says in a news release that the "The Fresh Beat Band" live-action TV show will continue, but it hasn't yet announced a fourth season. Nickelodeon has confirmed that actors Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Tara Perry, Jon Beavers and Thomas Hobson, the performers in the quartet, will voice an animated series. "Fresh Beat Band of Spies," also geared for preschoolers, set to debut in 2015.

Reserved seat tickets for the concert, $36 and $26, are required for everyone age 1 and up.

2. HIGH DIVE SHOW

New this year is the Fired Up High Dive Show at the Farmerama Theater.

The show is produced by high dive world record holder Dana Kunze -- known as the "king of high diving." Kunze leads a team that demonstrates spring board and tower diving, from as high as 70 feet. The members will perform acrobatic diving, comedy acts and clown diving as often as four times a day. One diver literally even goes down in flames in the Human Torch Fire Dive.

Shows are at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday; 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Wednesday; 2 and 4 p.m. Thursday; 2, 4, and 6 p.m.Aug. 29, and 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.

3. MELODY FARM FOLLIES

Fairgoers at the main entrance will be greeted by the sounds of Melody Farm Follies. The animated mechanical show features singing fruits, vegetables and farm animals, led by Hap the happy farm boy in a musical revue.

The show features animatronic characters such as Henrietta Hen, Lucy the Cow and Mr. Sun, along with singing pea pods, broccoli, corn, cabbage, carrots, banana, oranges, grapes, apples and pineapple.

The colorful characters are housed in a stage that looks like a red barn with silo. They sing recorded educational songs such as the "Garden Alphabet," "Recycle Hoe Down" and "Mr. Weed: I Want to be Your Friend" (about tolerance.)

The Follies was created by Bobby Marquis, who has made animated characters for Disney and Universal Studios theme parks.

4. FOOD SAFETY DISCOVERY ZONE

Learn about keeping food safe at the USDA's educational tractor trailer, which will be open for tours in front of Agri-Plex throughout the fair.

The traveling exhibit, which will be at the fair for the first time, includes interactive stations to show kids how to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Children meet cartoon characters of dangerous bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter and listeria, and learn how to avoid getting sick. Kids can spin the wheel and answer food safety trivia questions and, inside the trailer, learn lessons including on washing their hands and surfaces before handling food, keeping uneaten food chilled, keeping raw and cooked food separate and cooking food thoroughly.

5. ANIMALS, ANIMALS, ANIMALS

The fair has always been rooted in farm animals, and there are plenty of critters for kids to see in the livestock buildings..

Watch chicks hatching from eggs in an incubator and pet young goats, bunnies and other animals at the 4-H Petting Zoo.

In the Judging Tent, see the daily judging of animals, and take part in other farm-related activities.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, exhibitors dress up their animals for the Animal Mardi Gras and parade them around the tent.

Watch rabbits demonstrate their agility as they jump over hurdles in the "Bolting Bunny Obstacle Course" at 4 p.m.Aug. 30 and 31.

The Barnyard Olympics are at 1 p.m.Aug. 31, and fair-goers may register on site to compete in cow-mooing, rooster-crowing, hog-calling, corn-husking and other farm-fun activities. Kids also can throw a bale of hay or just watch the bale throwing contest at 7:30 p.m.Aug. 29. Or they can see how much they can pull with a small pedal tractor in the pedal tractor pull at 2 p.m.Aug. 31.

6. LIL FARM HANDS

Introduced in 2012, the Lil Farm Hands activity tent beckons children ages 3-10 outside the Agri-Plex, near the farm equipment. Little ones can try some farm-related activities.

Kids can learn shapes by matching apples, pears and peaches to the right tree, collect eggs from stuffed chickens, identify items by touch, play in a corn sandbox and watch a DVD on dairy farming. There's also corn cob shelling, a planting box, a memory game, bean bag toss using fruits and vegetables and a craft project.

7. BUTTERFLIES AND MORE IN AGRI-PLEX

Families can walk among more than 1,000 live butterflies at Folk's Butterfly Farm walk-in flight house inside the Agri-Plex. You can feed butterflies, take pictures and learn about the life cycle of butterflies.

Visitors will get a Q-tip soaked in Gatorade and be shown how to encourage a butterfly to land on your hand and eat the liquid with its proboscis. There is an admission fee of $2 for the butterfly house.

The Agri-Plex also offers kids entertainment on the Centennial Stage, including folk singer Dave Fry at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 3:15 p.m.Sept. 1; family duo the Spoon Pirates at 2:15 p.m.Sept. 1 and magician Mark Mysterrio at 4:15 p.m.Sept. 1.

Families also can sign up on site for contests at 5:15 p.m. many of the days, including Play-Doh sculpting Wednesday; pumpkin carving Aug. 29; mother-daughter, father-son look alike Aug. 30 and a rain gutter regatta Aug. 31.

8. PIGS AND ELEPHANTS

Robinson's Pig Paddling Porkers is back for its ninth year at the fair, with young pigs with names like Britney Spareribs and Lindsay LoHam that race around a turf track and swim in their own pig-size pool toward their favorite treat -- Oreos.

The popular pig show is again along Machinery Avenue Court, where fans can fill the stands and root for their favorite oinkers. The show is presented at various times four times daily.

Also returning after a years' absence is Elephant Encounter, an educational show featuring Cora, a 54-year-old, 9,000 pound Asian elephant, and Shannon, a 33-year-old, 6,000 pound African elephant. The show also was at the fair in 2008 and 2009.

In the 30-minute show across Machinery Avenue from the pig-racing, see how agile and intelligent these creatures are, and learn how they eat, drink and play. Elephant rides will be offered after each show. Shows are 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily.

9. MATT'S FAMILY JAM

Also back is Matt's Family Jam in a new location in the Maingate courtyard in front of the Maingate.

The group is made up of father Matt Rolf, mother Lisa and kids Collin, Adrienne and Benjamin who hail from Branson, Mo.

They play a range of music, from rock 'n' roll from the '50s and '60s to gospel to country. On a dance floor in front of the stage, kids can dance or try out a hula hoop. Their repertoire includes interactive kids songs as well as classics such as the "Hokey Pokey."

The family will perform at various times throughout the fair.

10. RIDES

Powers Great American Midway returns with favorite rides including the Gondola Ferris Wheel. And there are two new rides including Spin Zone, a bumper car ride that features cars that spin around, and Stampede, a thrill ride for older kids with double spinning wheels.

Discount vouchers for $15 all-day ride wristband are available at the fair box office or online until the fair opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The vouchers can be redeemed any one day at the fair at the Powers guest relations booth on the midway. Wristbands bought during the fair are $22; individual tickets are $5 for 4 tickets or $20 for 22 tickets. Wristbands do not include rides on the Vortex.

Info: http://www.allenownfair.org, 610-433-7541

kathy.lauer@mcall.com

610-778-2235

___

(c)2014 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

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