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York Fair's Cres Ottemiller dies at 87

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Creston "Cres" Ottemiller died Tuesday at 87.
  • He booked acts for the York Fair for many years, and served on its board since 1980.

Cres Ottemiller handled problems well.

Ottemiller, who booked acts for the York Fair for decades, was the guy dealing with many of the weird and exacting demands musicians and other performers would make — think along the lines of the  famous example of Van Halen wanting a bowl of M&Ms, but minus all the brown candies.

"He always had some humorous anecdotes about the peculiarities of the entertainers," said Gene Schenck, president of the York Fair. "They always wanna make demands," but Ottemiller was a skilled defuser. Things usually ended up OK.

In the same vein, Schenck said Ottemiller was an adept master of ceremonies. At ease even in front of 10,000 people, he always articulated himself well in a very pleasant speaking voice.

"And sometimes he had to stand there and make excuses for why the program wasn't going right," Schenck said.

Creston F. Ottemiller Jr. — everyone knew him as "Cres" — died Tuesday at York Hospital at age 87, according to his death notice.

Ottemiller's wife, Joyce, whose maiden name was Fitzkee, died in October 2012 at age 85, according to her obituary. They had four children, though one, William Ottemiller, died when he was a baby. The couple is survived by their other three children: Chris Ottemiller, who lives in New Mexico, Dennis Ottemiller, who lives in Oregon and Marie Kutz, who lives in Chambersburg, Franklin County.

Etzweiler Funeral Homes and Cremation Services at 1111 E. Market St. in York City is handling arrangements.

Schenck, who knew Ottemiller since Schenck first joined him on the fair's board in 1995, spoke highly of him.

"He was a wonderful guy," Schenck said. "He meant a lot to the fair."

He said Ottemiller served on the fair's board since 1980.

"He'd never miss a board meeting," Schenck said.

Ottemiller often had surprising stories. He played the trumpet throughout his life, and often when someone would mention some obscure venue or another anywhere in the country, he'd pipe up, saying he played there once upon a time.

Ottemiller stayed pretty youthful and involved with the fair, remaining on its entertainment board, continuing to be part of selecting performers, a job he did by himself for years.

"He was in his 80s, but he looked much younger," Schenck said.

Schenck said Ottemiller had been very involved with the state's county fair association and always went with Schenck to the association's annual convention in January. He even managed to get up there for a day this year.

Crowds make their way along the midway during the last day of the York Fair, Sunday September 15, 2013. Longtime fair director Cres Ottemiller died Tuesday. He was 87.

"He just had a lot of friends in a lot of places," Schenck said.

— Reach Sean Cotter