Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary drops in on the Middletown Grange Fair to honor longtime volunteer and former fair director

Sunday, August 21, 2016

By Jeff Werner:

WRIGHTSTOWN TOWNSHIP >> State Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding dropped in on the Middletown Grange Fair on Friday to personally deliver a proclamation to a special friend of the fair. After watching Bucks County 4H members show off their prized Holstein cows, Redding stepped into the fair’s main show arena Friday afternoon to deliver greetings from the state and also to single out former fair director and longtime
volunteer Anthony Medaglia of New Hope as the recipient of this year’s Friend of the Fair award.

A loud cheer, followed by extended applause erupted from the arena as Secretary Redding announced Medaglia’s name as the recipient of the award, which is given by the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture to fair volunteers across the state who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, volunteerism, community engagement and dedication to their local fairs.

“Well deserved recognition,” said Redding. “And as we have noted throughout the state, these folks are ones who are never seeking the limelight, are very humble people and hard working. You’re a great public servant. Thank you,” the Secretary told Medaglia.

Joining Secretary Redding in applauding Medaglia were State Rep. Marguerite Quinn from the 143rd state legislative district and this year’s fair directors, Scott Dengler, Amber McKenney and Roy Vanderwyck.  “Those who place great value in Pennsylvania’s festivals of agriculture and community ensure their continued success with gifts of time, talent and treasure,” said Redding, standing next to Medaglia and his wife, Gloria, during the presentation. “Tony embodies that spirit, providing essential services that allow the fair to remain a showcase of local talent, a celebration of our rural heritage and a vital tool in connecting farm and fork – teaching how agriculture provides food, fuel and fiber for our commonwealth and beyond.”Redding continued, “Tony’s extraordinary commitment to the fair is securing the future. This faithful and outstanding service deserves commendation and is worthy of emulation.”

In accepting the recognition, Medaglia noted, “One person doesn’t make an organization a success, but it’s having a crew that helped,” he said, as more applause filled the arena. Following the presentation, Redding joined the fair directors on a tour of the fairgrounds.

Redding is no stranger to the Middletown Grange Fair, having visited a few times as Secretary of Agriculture and in his previous role as Dean at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown. “All of our agricultural communities in Pennsylvania have a strong fair and you see that here with the Middletown Grange Fair. It’s a great place to see the county. And every fair is a great place to see Pennsylvania,” he said. “If you really want to see the state, you come to a fair,” Redding continued. “And you see this amazing cross section livestock, family living, food, entertainment. And quite frankly, the cross section of people at this fair tells a lot about this community. We’re fortunate to have the Middletown Grange among some of the best fairs in the state.” One of the coolest things about Pennsylvania fairs, added Redding, is the connection visitors can make to the local food system. “People love their agriculture and their food. And they want to know where their food is coming from. And that’s a great question to ask while at the fair because when they do, they begin to think about the farm, the local connection, the food system – that it doesn’t simply happen at the point of purchase.”
Pennsylvania is home to more than 109 agricultural and community fairs that attract more than 5.5 million visitors, employ nearly 6,600 people part- time and 1,700 full-time residents and contribute more than $126 million to the state’s economy.

Secretary Redding also spoke about Bucks County’s thriving 4H program, which has grown to become the largest in the state under the leadership of Bob Brown and the Penn State Extension office. “We have an amazing juxtaposition here with a major metropolitan area that has invested in open space like very few counties in the state. It’s got amazing 4H leaders and youth in its programs. And more than 500 head of livestock on the grounds,” said Redding. “There are very rural areas of this state where you would struggle to get half of that. To think there’s 500 here says a lot about 4H and the commitment of both Penn State and the county, which is supporting it.” Quinn agreed with the secretary, adding that Bucks County has many reasons to be proud of what it has accomplished in terms of preserving its open space and supporting its 4H organization. “Despite growth, there remains an enormous appreciation for what we are in terms of our past and the beauty of our farms and agricultural lands,” said Quinn.

“But we also need to feed people,” said Quinn. “We need to keep people healthy and the ‘Grown Local, Eat Local’ and knowing what is actually going into your food and the ‘Farm to Table’ concept, Bucks County and the people at this fair have been far ahead of what this new trend has been. They live it. There are people here who are six generations. It’s amazing and it’s a tribute to the values they hold – hard work, good ethics, taking good care of yourself and respecting the land.”