Lessons Learned at the
Big Knob Grange Fair
By Randy Shannon and Carl Davidson
The Big Knob Grange Fair, held Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 up in the lovely rolling hills above Rochester, PA, a distressed mill town at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio rivers, is a “big doin’s’ in Beaver County, and has been for 70 years or so.
It features blue grass and country rock bands, tractor and truck ‘pulls,’ a demolition derby, dozens of rides for kids, booths for local politicians, hunting clubs, garden clubs, home improvement vendors, and local artisans. The Grange members serve delicious home-cooked food, display prize-winning livestock, fowl, and garden produce. The oldest and the latest in farm equipment are also on display. In recent years, the Fair draws from 30,000 to 40,000 semi-rural farmers and blue-collar workers with their families, and a horde of young people, and this year, with glorious weather, was no different.
This year the Fair had a new feature co-sponsored by Beaver County Peace Links and the 4th CD Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. Near the middle of the big striped circus tent was a table with a large banner hanging behind it: ‘War Is Making You Poor!’ Many of the hundreds of passersby on any one of the five days stopped and did a double take. Some ambled on, but a good number stayed to chat and see what it was all about.
“We were there every day from 4pm until 10pm,” said Randy Shannon, treasurer of the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America. “People start flowing in after work. In addition to our banner, there was a giant 4ft x 5ft poster showing that Beaver County taxpayers have shelled out $54 million per year for the last ten years for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is almost the same amount as the county’s annual general fund tax collections.”
Carl Davidson explained his contribution: “We set up an internet connection with a cell phone. With a monitor and a laptop I showed some antiwar videos picked by Beaver County Peace Links, including a looping video of an apple pie being divided like the US budget. The military got half the pie.”
Todd and Emily Davis made a unique contribution to the table. Todd, a Methodist pastor, is the chairperson of Peace Links. They labeled 10 jars with the main categories of the federal budget. They were arrayed in front of a small backdrop that read: ‘Take the penny poll: how would YOU spend your tax dollars.’