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Caruthers Fair celebrates 85th anniversary, Sept 24-27

The small community of Caruthers rallies together to throw their annual fair, Sept. 24-27. This rich traditional center has been in commission since 1923 and was the first fair implemented by a small community within the San Joaquin valley.
[/media-credit] The small community of Caruthers rallies together to throw their annual fair, Sept. 24-27. This rich traditional center has been in commission since 1923 and was the first fair implemented by a small community within the San Joaquin valley.

Traditional country fair unites community

A diverse and disorderly array of people mill about the fairgrounds, some talking, others sampling an assortment of country styled deep fried delights. A few appear rather ill after riding the Zipper or the Graviton.

Livestock bray in the distance over the sound of live country music and a variety of vegetables are displayed for judging. The Caruthers Fair has arrived once again.

The small community of Caruthers rallies together to throw their annual fair, Sept. 24-27. This rich traditional center has been in commission since 1923 and was the first fair implemented by a small community within the San Joaquin valley. The function was originally held on the Caruthers grammer school grounds. Later, the fair took residence at an old horse track in the area.

Due to a lack of funds, the Caruthers fair was originally quite small with very few attractions. It was a community effort to continue the event with only $165 in funds put aside for the second fair. In 1925 the Caruthers District Fair Association was formed in order to promote agricultural achievement.

The expanding fair was halted during WWII and served as an emergency labor camp. After the war?s end the Caruthers community felt the need to continue the tradition. However, unfavorable conditions and damaged facilities hindered the grand reopening for several years. In 1946, the Young Famers , a group of recently returned veterans, decided to restore the grounds. Under the leadership of John R. Adams the Young Farmers resestablished the Caruthers fair.

The event continues to flourish today and is considered the largest free gate fair in California. This year marks the events 85th anniversary. It is funded primarily by raffle tickets sold by Caruthers Queen Candidates. The young lady who accumulates the highest ticket sales is deemed Queen of the Caruthers fair. Raffle ticket winners receive various degrees of prizes the most valuable of which is a new car.

In addition to amusement rides and prizes, the fair also displays the arts, crafts, food and agricultural achievements of the outlying community. Future Farmers of America (FFA) students throughout Fresno County come to exhibit their livestock with the hope of a blue ribbon. Similar contests occur for floriculture, horticulture and the arts.

Morgan Miller,’16 attended the Caruthers fair about two years ago. She says that the combination of rides and the food made for a very memorable experience.

“I remember the food most,” Miller said. “There was so much and it was all really good. It seemed like all I did was eat. My favorite thing was the rides. They were a lot of fun.”

One citizen of the Caruthers community is chosen yearly for their contributions to society and given the honored position of Grand Marshall. This year Fred Helm , age 91 was chosen as the community?s representative.

Helm was born September 22, 1923 in Selma CA to Juanita and Fred. Soon after he and his parents moved to Fresno, and then to Caruthers where Helm attended the first grade. When in high school Helm lettered in varsity football for four consecutive years and won several track and field medals at the West Coast Relays. Upon his graduation in 1942 the town?s sport programs were temporarily cancelled in preparation for the war.
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From 1943-1946 Helm served in the navy. Upon his return the veteran continued to work at Caruthers? local market, Andersen?s, as a meat cutter. After several years he and a friend Sam Ulmer bought the store and renamed it F&S. Helm retired in 1987 after 58 years in the grocery business.

Currently Helm has four children, nine grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and one great great grandchild. As Grand Marshall Helm will partake in the Caruthers Parade. He will enter the scene in a vintage car accompanied by his four granddaughters.

Helm recalls the progress that the fair has undergone since his first visit in 1929. The Grand Marshall enjoys the company of old friends who continue to attend.

“When I first started going to the Caruthers fair my favorite thing was the Ferris wheel,” Helm said as he recalled a day at the fair more than 70 years ago. “When the fair started the only thing it really had was the marry-go-round and the Ferris wheel and not that much else. They used to have a booth that had tri-tip every year that was my favorite thing but they?re no longer there. Now my favorite thing is visiting with the older people who still go to the fair every year.”

The Caruthers fair will open daily Wed-Fri at 8 a.m. and close at 12 p.m. On Sat Sept. 27, due to the parade the fair will open at 10 a.m. and close at its usual time. For more information about specific dates visit the Caruthers Fair Calendar.

FC marching band and color guard will be participating in the Caruthers Fair Parade at 10 a.m., Sept. 27.

For more news, read Sept. 24 article, Student leadership: See You at the Pole, Sept. 24
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Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

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    Zachary SmithMar 22, 2012 at 12:04 am

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