Community Fair gets burst of youthful energy

Admittedly, Deb Deckman watches a lot of HGTV. So it won’t be hard to figure out where she drew inspiration for one of the many new features at this year’s Unionville Community Fair.

Deb Deckman says

Deb Deckman, president of the Unionville Community Fair board, says visitors will see old and new attractions this year.

The “tiny home” at this year’s event will help push sustainable living.

It’s one of the ways that Deckman, the new president of the board who helped rescue the fair from extinction earlier in 2016, is changing things during her first go-around running the now 92-year-old fair, which kicks off Thursday, Sept. 29.

The goal? To try and liven up the annual event.

And the tiny home won’t be the only new attraction.

Another push for a newer-age event has Deckman and other board members adding more food trucks, and a barnyard Olympics. The still-not-confirmed punkin’ chunkin, an offshoot of a celebrated event held annually in Dover, De., which involves propelling pumpkins with slingshots and catapults, is also a possibility.

The full schedule can be found here.

“We’re trying to revitalize the fair a little bit while keeping with the traditions and the mission statement of the fair,” Deckman said. “Also trying to bring in the next generation and open it back up to more of the school members of the district to try and get some younger members involved.”

Deckman’s new role is a perfect fit. The West Grove resident has a long family history with the fair. Her husband Matthew’s grandparents were fair staples. Laura Deckman was one of the first Fair Queens. Grandfather Fred made those famous matchbox cars many fair attendees may remember.

So when Deckman, a planning specialist at Lovett Advisors with more than 16 years’ experience in the financial services industry, was looking for ways to get involved, saving the fair was a natural - and family-oriented - choice.

But one thing Deckman didn’t know was how much goes into it all. She’s served on boards before, including Avon Grove Little League up until recently, but nothing like this.

“One thing I didn’t realize when I got involved with the fair was the depth of it,” Deckman said. “Being involved in the little league, our board contained about 16 members. I kind of understood that it could get a little bit bigger than that, but I had no idea.

“I think any good group just needs one real leader or a couple really strong leaders to kind of set the path.”

Deckman and the rest of the new board will help lead the fair into the next generation.

Savy Leiser, a 2011 Unionville High grad, will be selling a self-published book that got its inspiration from the fair. Photo by Cindy Huang

Savy Leiser, a 2011 Unionville High grad, will be selling a  book  inspired by the community fair. Photo by Cindy Huang

Assisting in that regard will be vendors like Eileen Stanfield, a 2001 Unionville High grad who operates StanfieldCeramics in Philadelphia.

Another infusion of youthful energy will come from 2011 Unionville High graduate Savy Leiser, who will be selling, signing and talking about her self-published book, “The Making of a Small-Town Beauty King,” at a vendor table on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The young-adult comedy, which can be purchased on Amazon is about a boy who decides he wants to win a beauty pageant. Leiser, who moved to Unionville during grade school from Chicago, always attended the fair and the beauty pageant and wondered what would happen if a male entered.

The book originated from something she wrote for a screenwriting class at Northwestern University. The story is not set in Unionville, but the fair draws directly from Leiser’s memories from her years attending it.

“I’d like to set a story here some day,” Leiser said of her memories as a fairgoer.

The news of the fair’s potential demise reached Leiser in Chicago, where she works as a freelance writer and editor and where she’s trying to pitch her new novel to agents.

“I was hearing about that,” Leiser said. “That made me super sad to hear that. I’m glad to hear that it didn’t die and that it’s still going.”

Still going, but with a few tiny tinkers.

About Jeff Neiburg

Jeff Neiburg is a freelance writer who's been reunited with Chester County after spending a few years living in Philadelphia. A 2009 graduate of Unionville High School, Jeff was formerly the Philadelphia Flyers beat writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. His work has been featured at the Inquirer/Daily News, the Associated Press, CSNPhilly.com and elsewhere. Jeff is a 2014 graduate of Temple University with a degree in journalism.

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