People Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette says he saw his first fire eater and his first freak show at the Franklin County Fair in Greenfield, Mass. Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, file

GREENFIELD, Mass. — Magician Penn Jillette is urging people to support a fundraising effort by the agricultural fair in his Massachusetts hometown he credits with inspiring his show business career.

Jillette saw his first fire eater and his first freak show at the Franklin County Fair in Greenfield and spent some of the “happiest times of my life” there, he says in a nearly four-minute video posted on the fair’s Facebook page Wednesday. He even participated in the demolition derby one year.

“I can trace my whole career back to Greenfield, Massachusetts, and the Franklin County Fair,” the talking half of the Penn & Teller comedy-magic team, says in the video.

The fair, run by the Franklin County Agricultural Society, is still trying raise about $90,000 toward its $260,000 goal so it can fix erosion damage at the fairgrounds and make other improvements.

Fair President Michael Nelson told that he emailed Jillette’s representatives asking for help, and got a response from Jillette himself about an hour later.

“It was extremely exciting,” Nelson said. “We are very proud to have him as part of our team, helping with our fundraising campaign given his strong ties to the fairgrounds.”

The fair was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but is scheduled for Sept. 9-12 this year.

The fair is “America at its best,” Jillette, who currently lives in Las Vegas, says in the video.

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