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May 22, 2024

June Fete fairgrounds in Montgomery County to be permanently protected from development

The 41-acre property has hosted the century-old event since the 1950s. It is being sold to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust for $4.15 million.

Real Estate Conservation
June Fete Fairgrounds Provided Image/PERT

An aerial photo shows the 41-acre June Fete fairgrounds in Huntingdon Valley. The land will be permanently preserved by the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, which is purchasing the property for $4.15 million and managing it under a conservation easement.

A 41-acre parcel of land in Huntingdon Valley that has hosted the June Fete fair for decades will be permanently spared from future development.

The property at 2990 Edge Hill Road, long owned by Jefferson Abington Hospital and Abington Memorial Healthcare Corp., will be purchased by the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust for $4.15 million. PERT began fundraising for the acquisition last year and expects to close on the transaction by the end of next month.

The June Fete, a country fair with amusement rides and carnival games, has been an attraction in Montgomery County since 1913. The event is put on by the Abington Foundation Women's Board, which will be granted an exclusive right to use the property for the June Fete indefinitely. All proceeds from the fair — held the second weekend after Memorial Day — benefit capital improvements at Jefferson Abington Hospital.

The June Fete Fairgrounds are currently zoned residential and could have been an attractive location for developers. The land is mostly flat and on high ground, protecting it from flooding. The property also doesn't have complications from prior development. PERT and the hospital agreed the land should remain as open, undeveloped green space. It will be owned outright by PERT under a conservation easement.

"It's really the best of both worlds where the Fair can continue, and the land is preserved forever," said Jill Kyle, senior vice president for regional advancement at Jefferson Health.

PERT acts as a steward for more than 850 acres of land in the Pennypack Creek watershed, primarily working to conserve and restore natural habitats.

UPDATE: Montgomery County's June Fete Fair canceled after permit applications denied

"But this is a rare opportunity to preserve a tradition, what some folks say is the longest continually running fair in the U.S., right alongside the natural systems that we need to protect," PERT executive director Chris Mendel said.

That claim to fame is made by a number of fairs around the country that predate the 20th century, including Missouri's Moniteau Country Fair and New York's Steuben County and Jefferson County fairs. But the history of the June Fete was instrumental in establishing Jefferson Abington Hospital in the early 20th century, beginning with lawn fetes and holiday bazaars that were meant to raise money for the hospital's opening in 1914. 

The original celebration, held at the Elkins Estate in Elkins Park, was called the Garden Party Fair. It offered lawn games, fresh produce and a space for people to show off their cars. The June Fete name was adopted in 1918, and the event grew in popularity with the introduction of a fashion show, pony show and horse show. Several estates in the area hosted the June Fete in subsequent years before the fairgrounds were donated in 1955 to serve as the permanent location.

PERT plans to continue fundraising after the land transaction is complete to make sure the property has resources for maintenance.

The June Fete attracts about 25,000 people annually over the course of the three-day weekend. This year, it will be open from 4-10 p.m. on Friday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.