Officials opening up fair entries _lowres

Photo provided by Tangipahoa Parish Fair -- A parade is part of the annual Tangipahoa Parish Fair, which is inviting St. Helena residents to take part this year. The 2014 parade featured several horses and buggies.

The Tangipahoa Parish Fair, set for Sept. 30-Oct. 4 in Amite, could be a bit more crowded this year with the addition of St. Helena Parish students and residents taking part in popular fair events.

Tangipahoa Parish Fair Association board members decided to invite St. Helena residents after learning the parish had no fair of its own.

“One of our board members brought it to our attention that for a couple years now St. Helena has requested to participate in the fair,” said Tammy DiMattia, Tangipahoa Parish Fair Association treasurer. “It wasn’t common knowledge to the entire board that St. Helena doesn’t have its own fair such as Livingston, Tangipahoa or Washington Parish. With them being a neighboring parish, we want to create a way for their children and their residents to participate.

“We put it to a vote of our board and it passed unanimously; everyone thought it was a great idea.”

The fair, which dates back to 1888, has a robotics competition, livestock show, arts and crafts exhibition, spelling bee and bake-off for students. The schedule also includes a parade on Oct. 2, gumbo cook-off and music throughout the fair.

The board hopes opening up the fair exhibits to kids from neighboring parishes will cause more people to take advantage of the learning opportunities the fair has to offer.

“There are a lot of opportunities for parents and children together to come out and experience things,” DiMattia said. “Our pioneer town and Indian village give them a look at a real-life teepee and the tools the Native Americans used in everyday life. Pioneer town gives them the opportunity to see how their grandparents lived when they first settled in this area. We have a church that we actually hold services in on Sunday mornings that is open to the public.”

Fair demonstrations planned include how to make crackling and soap.

Heather Howell, president of the Tangipahoa Parish Fair Association, has been around the fair since she was 5 and has been an active board member for two years.

Howell said she hopes the expansion of entries and new incentives will serve to draw a wider population to the fair.

“It really is the Tangipahoa Parish Fair and for many years it hasn’t been marketed that way. It has really been a northern Tangipahoa thing,” Howell said.

“We really want the kids in Ponchatoula, Hammond and the entire area of Tangipahoa to feel like they are part of this fair. The first-place winners get money whereas before we were giving it to the organization which had nominated those groups. They’ll not only be able to enter their dog, rabbit or whatever it is, but now if they win, they get a blue ribbon plus a check.”

Brandy Vaughn, 34, chief of curriculum and technology at St. Helena Parish School District, thinks the opportunity to participate in the fair will give students an avenue to demonstrate the skills the state is looking for.

“I use the state standards as the baseline for what students have to do by the end of each grade level and this would be a way to get the students to that point,” Vaughn said.

“For example, the essay contest would be a way to demonstrate their writing ability and through the poetry contest they can show their creativity. We’re glad they reached out to us, so our students will have another platform to show what they know. It’s also a community-building effort that will allow us to work with a neighboring parish.”

Submission deadlines for each category can be found at

The fair is at 400 Reid Ave., Amite.

For information, email or call DiMattia at (985) 517-6029.