Rorabaugh honored

Mary Rorabaugh of Mahaffey was named the 2019 Friend of the Harmony Grange Fair Tuesday evening at the fair. She was recognized with a plaque from the Pennsylvania State Fair’s Association. Rorabaugh is pictured with members of her family who were on hand to see her receive the award.

WESTOVER — A retired volunteer who served the Harmony Grange Fair in various capacities was recognized Tuesday evening during the opening ceremony of the Harmony Grange Fair.

Mary Rorabaugh of Mahaffey received the Pennsylvania State Fair Association’s Friend of the Fair award for her many years of dedication and service to the fair. Rorabaugh told The Progress when she figured out she was the 2019 award recipient, “I was shocked. When he said my name, I couldn’t believe it. I thought he must be talking about another Mary Rorabaugh.”

Prior to the announcement of the award recipient each year, Fair Manager Shae Harkleroad keeps the audience in suspense by giving clues that narrow down the award recipient for the audience.

He finally announced Rorabaugh’s name and called her to the front of the audience, where her granddaughter Chelsey Chambers presented her with a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

Harkleroad noted Rorabaugh got her start at the fair as a member of the Harmony 4-H Club who exhibited strawberry plants at the Harmony Fair. More recently, she was a member of the fair’s floral department — a position she held approximately 15 years and also spent numerous years working in the grange’s fair stand, the Red Onion.

Harkleroad said although Rorabaugh has been a familiar face for many years at the fair, the work fair visitors might best remember Rorabaugh for was her musical performance in a fair vendor’s both.

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“One of her first jobs at the fair was playing the organ in a corner of the grange hall,” Harkleroad said.

Spotts Music Center, who had a store in Curwensville, would deliver an organ and a piano each year that would be in place inside its both at the grange hall during the five days of the fair and Rorabaugh would be called on to demonstrate the musical instrument.

“Mary would play the organ and a Mrs. Spencer, who Rorabaugh said she believed was the wife of the store’s owner, would play the piano. Some nights that’s all you could hear inside the grange hall was the music coming from that corner,” Harkleroad said.

Rorabaugh is married to Charles Rorabaugh. The couple has three daughters, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.