Next week will usher in the 65th Harmony Grange Fair in Clearfield County’s Burnside Township.
Grange organizations, once known officially as the Patrons of Husbandry, began nationally in 1867 to serve the interests of agricultural families.
Grange Halls spread rapidly over the country landscape. They often served as centers for social gatherings as well as each organization’s business meetings.
Grange members were known to be loyal members and workers for their group. They thrived at a time when local, especially rural people, in Clearfield County could not journey far and stuck to their communities for shopping, business and religious services.
Granges seemed tailor made for these folks to fit what we now often think as a simpler and slower paced lifestyle. The number of Clearfield County Granges is listed at nearly three dozen in the 1887 Aldrich History of Clearfield County, and that figure probably grew over the decades.
The past 30 years have seen a steep decline. Only a handful of active organizations survive today. Times change and new generations bring new and different priorities.
The Harmony Grange is still going strong. Newer buildings have replaced the original shown in the photo. The fair, which is a solid institution in the southwestern part of the county, lives up to its name with available food, carnival rides and craft sales.
It is still uniquely agricultural with displays and judging of livestock, garden flowers and produce, baked goods and home preserves.
We can wonder what the men in the wintry 1945 photo would think of the truck and tractor pull contests that draw the big crowds in our day and age.