Dana Lape of Lebanon carries the York Fair Grand Champion Rose Comb rooster, Mr. Comb, out to his vehicle on the last day of the York Fair. Over its 10-day
Dana Lape of Lebanon carries the York Fair Grand Champion Rose Comb rooster, Mr. Comb, out to his vehicle on the last day of the York Fair. Over its 10-day run, the fair had a total of 587,866 visitors. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

As the York Fair packed up and closed down Sunday night, president Gene Schenck reflected on the roller coaster that was fair attendance.

Attendance Wednesday and Thursday was particularly low compared to the rest of the fair's 10 days, he said. And the total number of visitors - 587,866 - was lower than last year's record-breaking 642,263.

But people are less likely to make plans on weekdays, and the fair has adopted a new way to calculate attendance that might be the reason for the change, Schenck said.

"I don't really think, looking at these numbers, that there are 50,000 (fewer) people (than last year)," he said. "I think the variations come more from the way we account for attendance than it does for a real drop in attendance.

Allie Ilgenfritz, 6, of Mechanicsburg feeds birds in the Parakeet Adventure on the last day of the York Fair.
Allie Ilgenfritz, 6, of Mechanicsburg feeds birds in the Parakeet Adventure on the last day of the York Fair. (John A. Pavoncello photo)
"

And with this year's figure being comparable to past years - and with mostly decent weather - the fair was a success, Schenck said.

"We think the fair was one of the best fairs we've had," he said.

Next year: And the York Fair doesn't simply run its 10-day course and go on its way - planning it is a year-round process, Schenck said.

As far as which events and exhibits will return next year, that's still up for debate, he said.

"No hints yet, but we're already working on next year," Schenck said.

He added that the Royal Hanneford Circus, Tammy the Hypnotist and the exotic petting zoo were all hits in the free entertainment department, but a committee will eventually vote on whom to bring back.

"We try to bring back everybody's favorite," Schenck said.

And Mark Nisbet's petting zoo, aka Eudora Farms out of Salley, S.C., was a hit in its second year at the fair, he said. The zoo, which was free to enter, featured a giraffe, zebra and other exotic animals.

"We've had a lot (of people) all day," Nisbet said Sunday. "It's been wonderful, though."

And he wouldn't mind coming back to the York Fair to see the "great people" again, he said.

"We'd love to come back. ... It's one of our best fairs," Nisbet said.

Helicopter hang-up: One attraction that got some of the most attention this year was East Coast Helicopters, Schenck said.

"If you saw the line down there, you have to come to the conclusion that it was a major attraction," he said. "People were standing in line to do it, and they were paying $40 apiece to do it, so you have to conclude it was popular."

But as much as fairgoers loved to see York from above, some residents couldn't stand the constant noise, said Brian Klinger, co-owner of East Coast Helicopters.

The company then worked on resolving some issues, such as flying higher and away from the city, he said. Some complainers even got back in touch with the company to say the problem had been addressed, he said.

Klinger said he hopes to make a return to the fairgrounds next year.

"We'd love to come back, as long as the fair will have us back," he said.

After all, the rides have made for some very happy customers, he said.

"Everyone just loves it, says it's the best 40 bucks they ever spent," Klinger said.

York Fair attendance at a glance:

Friday, Sept. 6: 51,524

Saturday, Sept. 7: 78,656

Sunday, Sept. 8: 50,173

Monday, Sept. 9: 70,587

Tuesday, Sept. 10: 36,238

Wednesday, Sept. 11: 12,327

Thursday, Sept. 12: 16, 442

Friday, Sept. 13: 78,912

Saturday, Sept. 14: 95,112

Sunday, Sept. 15: 97,895

Total: 587,866

-Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.