York Fair returns with Mantooth and motorsports
America's First Fair returns to the York Fairgrounds Friday, Sept. 8, with motorsports, hot dog racing pigs (and daschunds), Bengal tiger shows, pirate-themed high-wire acts and celebrity guests.
Special guest Randolph Mantooth, star of the 1970s NBC television show "Emergency!," will be signing autographs on Saturday, Sept. 9, and Sunday, Sept. 10, at the York Fair Fire Station, according to a York Fair news release. Mantooth will attend Sunday's re-dedication of the York Fair Fire Station and give a special presentation to first responders at the grandstand.
New to the fair this year is a transformed Heritage Hall. Formerly an entertainment center and livestock area, the hall is now an agricultural education center.
The new center will teach about corn, cows and growing crops, while TV monitors show the story of agriculture — part of fair general manager Michael Froehlich's efforts to include more educational opportunities and exhibits.
The livestock housed in the hall last year have moved to the John Smith building, near Utz Arena, with the other livestock, making it easier to see all the animals in one area.
Froehlich also promises returning favorites, but with a fresh spin.
The circus will forgo traditional acts for Chinese acrobats. "That will give us a twist on the popular circus and an international flavor, " he said.
Music includes fair veteran Lynyrd Skynyrd and popular country star Thomas Rhett on the Grandstand stage.
Froggy 107.7 will be featuring its free radio stage, a platform for national and up-and-comers in the country scene. This year's talent includes a No.1 charting artist William Michael Morgan, brothers Jordan and Jacob Davis — each performing with their own bands — and returning Canadian group High Valley.
Also performing on the free stage is Midland, whose debut single reached No. 1 two weeks ago. The band is "old school country meets new school, current country," according to Brooke Wilson, marketing and administrative sales rep for Froggy. She said the group offers a different sound than what listeners have been hearing on the radio.
Wilson is expecting a larger crowd for Kane Brown, who has many fans in the area, while local rising artists Devon Nickoles and Leah Burkey will have the opportunity to open the stage on several nights.
Fairgoers should look out for the Listener Appreciation Show on Friday, Sept. 8, on the Grandstand stage, featuring three artists for $20, including NBC's "The Voice" star Danielle Bradbery.
Though fair attendance has been down in recent years, and some vendors such as Kohr's Famous Orangeade are not returning, Froehlich is not worried.
"Attendance is like farming," he said. "It's all heavily dependent on the weather."
Froehlich uses other measures to determine success, such as program entries, which are up compared with last year's, and income from rides and vendors, which has held steady or increased over the past few years.
Vendor turnover year to year is common, he said. As the fair undergoes changes to stay relevant, the challenge can be for vendors to change with the times and update their stands and menus.
Froehlich said it's important to look at longtime vendors that have done well at the fair, such as Mr. Ed's under the Grandstand and Bricker's Famous French Fries. "They're always trying to change things up," he said.
For his part, Froehlich is keeping the fair relevant by incorporating more agricultural education and exhibits, increasing rides and expanding roadways to accommodate more people.
Popular events such as the York Fair Queen pageant were moved from August to September, during the fair, allowing for greater opportunity to attend.
Froehlich commends the fair's variety. With music, comedy, shows and even more monster trucks this year, "people can make a choice."
If You Go:
When: Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 17 (gates open at 11 a.m. Fridays through Sundays and at noon Monday through Thursday)
Where: York Fairgrounds, 334 Carlisle Avenue, York
Cost: $8 admission, $4 for ages 6 through 18 and students with college IDs. Free for children 5 and younger. Parking is $7. A fair-long pass is available for $75 and includes parking
Schedule and more information: http://yorkfair.org/