York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York County plow gave way to bulldozer

A Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin article
about a York County couple who sell models of old-time construction equipment brings to mind a past rite of summer in York County.
That was Old Tyme Days in Manchester borough.
That annual event was just an old-time fair held about this time every year. Home-made food. Antique farm machinery. Tractor pulling competition. An old-fashioned prayer meeting.
Several years ago, the owners of the land where the fair was held for years sold the property to be used as a housing development.
What a symbol for a York County in change. A fair priding itself in the display of farm equipment giving way to sprawl. As I write, the housing development is going up on the old fairgrounds.
The York Daily Record explored this and other examples of perhaps less-than-desirable change in a 2004 editorial:

Assorted thoughts on a modernizing society:
Long Tyme gone: Looking for a perfect metaphor for the effect of suburban sprawl on our community? Look no further than East Manchester Township, where Old Tyme Days are now literally a thing of the past.
For 20 years this old-fashioned farm fair has delighted residents. No gaudy midway or overpriced carnival rides here — just good, old-fashioned food, music and tractor-plowing competitions.
But the annual event is no more. The land where it has been held is slated for residential development.
Blaine Rentzel has allowed the celebration on 60 acres of his property, but now he has a contract to sell 114 acres to Snyder Developers of Reading. Snyder is asking the township for a special exception to build homes on smaller lots than normal, allowing more open space.
But not enough space for Old Tyme Days.
What a shame to lose a nice local tradition. Here’s hoping the festival can find another farm to call home for at least another 20 years.
Over-herd: York County will lose another local farming tradition soon when the Rutter’s Dairy sells off its cow herd.
The 250-year-old farm in Manchester Township — the oldest continuously operating farm in the country — has supplied the dairy with 2 percent of the milk it processes. But now company officials say they need to expand the processing facility, and the cows will have to go to make room. Rutter’s plans a new refrigerated warehouse and farm education center.
While we’re sorry to see the herd go, at least a few will remain. And the dairy plans to continue tours of the facility — a popular field trip among local schools.
Also, the family-owned operation plans to hold onto the land — which is great news in the rapidly developing township.
Hog heaven scent: Speaking of modern farming operations: Factory farms have been making local headlines for several years. And a proposal for a 3,300-head hog farm in East Hopewell Township has stirred controversy.
Like it or not, large-scale animal operations are probably the farms of the future because they increase efficiency and profits. But they can also decrease quality of life if not operated conscientiously.
Factory farmers ought to be good neighbors by leaving large buffer zones between the animals and residential areas, mitigating the noise and smell. They should also harness the power of science to accomplish those goals, and it was great to read recently that a local company has a way to help.
Guardian Chemical Specialties Corp. of York has developed a system that reduces the smell of large-scale hog barns. The system, called Bio-Regen, deploys microbes that devour odors into the manure storage areas. The system also reportedly makes the manure a better fertilizer, allowing nutrients to be more quickly delivered to roots so they don’t run off during rains, contaminating streams.
It’s probably not a magic solution to all the environmental concerns about factory farms, but it appears to be a scientific step in the right direction.

Reality check
: And finally, the ultimate sign of our changing times: “Amish in the City.”
The reality show featuring Amish people living in L.A. with “modern” young adults began airing last week on local UPN affiliate WLYH-TV (Ch. 15). But not before station officials “previewed” the show to make sure it wasn’t too offensive to our Pennsylvania Dutch sensibilities.
It is somewhat offensive in the manner of most “reality” shows, which turn us into a nation of voyeurs. But then, this televised voyeurism is really just a kissin’ cousin to the tacky tourist industry that encourages people to come to Lancaster County and ogle the Amish like specimens in a zoo.

Chad Whitcraft of New Freedom unloads his 1935 John Deere B off the back of his truck in Manchester in preparation for Old Tyme Days in 2004.