York Fair celebrates diversity, adds more free events

The York Fair is back for its annual 10-day run, and though it's been a tradition since 1765, it has no shortage of new experiences for veterans and first-timers.

Despite struggling with attendance in recent years — even seeing the departure of longtime vendor Kohr's Famous Orangeade in 2017 — communications coordinator Brianna Holmes said numbers are looking good for its run Sept. 7-16.

Ten new vendors were added, and Holmes said she expects the total to reach or surpass last year's by the start of the fair.

Some of the additions include Sarah's Creamery, which has a location in Dover Township; Hanover-based food truck Munchie Monsters, with organic farm-to-table food made from scratch; and Lancaster Trading House, which sells snacks such as soft pretzels and honey jam paninis.

The Agricultural Education Center was new to the fair last year and is returning with more hand-on activities for kids, such as a big coloring wall and story barn.

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This year, the center will host two schools for the first time — 700 students from Lincoln Charter School and about 200 from York City School District's Ferguson K-8 school — on Thursday, Sept. 13, as they come early, tour the fairgrounds, visit the center and have lunch.

Local community groups also have come together and worked with fair management to bring more people to the fair, Holmes said.

Workers set up the first ride for the York Fair, a roller coaster, along the midway, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. The York Fair opens Friday, Sept. 7.  John A. Pavoncello photo

A brand new Community Pavilion will have entertainment each day "to put a spotlight on our diverse community," she said, including days dedicated to African-American, Irish and Russian culture, as well as other groups such as local musicians and firefighters.

"One of the biggest ones we're looking forward to (is) on Saturday," she said of the Feria Latina Day on Sept. 15., which coincides with the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Free at the fair: Holmes said it's also the first year that most of the free acts at the fair are new.

Making their debut are Rhinestone Roper tricks on horses, a firefighter training show, a tightrope act and a ninja experience — based off the popular "American Ninja Warrior" competition.

And the fair will have kids' entertainment such as the Sesame Street show, which has two free performances Saturday, Sept. 8

Returning free acts include racing pigs and dogs, model trains, Goat Mountain and glass-blowing demos.

And Discovering the Dinosaurs, which features animatronic dinos, is returning to the Expo Center but is new to the fair — and only $5.

Headliners: One of the most anticipated additions to the fair each year is a fresh lineup of headlining performances on the grandstand stage.

Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias will be performing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, (tickets are $34 to $49) as part of his One Show Fits All World Tour.

The Latino-American comedian celebrated a 20-year career in 2017, which includes selling out Madison Square Garden and the worldwide Netflix special "I'm Sorry for What I Said When I Was Hungry."

More: York Fair announces first performers for 2018 lineup

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Christian best-seller MercyMe, hitting the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, (tickets are $15 to $30), has taken the No. 1 spot on Christian music charts with their recent single "Grace Got You."

The group is hot off of biopic "I Can Only Imagine," released by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions in 2018 — a movie based on the life of frontman Bart Millard, who wrote the song of the same name after losing his father to cancer.

The American Idol: Live! tour is coming to the fair at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, (tickets are $15 to $30) followed by Australian pop-rock group 5 Seconds of Summer with special guest The Aces at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, (tickets are $45 to $60) and country rock group Old Dominion with special guest Walker Hayes at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, (tickets are $34 to $49).

Rock icon Alice Cooper will perform at the York Fair. (Submitted)

The biggest name to grace the stage at the fair this summer is probably legendary rocker Alice Cooper, who famously uses a guillotine in his stage performance.

Fans who want a chance to put their head in the guillotine, tour the stage before the performance or even meet Cooper himself can choose between several VIP packages ranging from $164 to $689.

Cooper kicks off the lineup of performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, (show tickets are $24 to $39) and rounding it out is the Monster Truck Fall Bash ($20 adults, $10 kids), which has two shows Saturday, Sept. 15.

Back for its third year, the monster truck show will include a pre-show meet and greet, a party and a ride in a real monster truck. Fans of the spectacle can look for a new feat this year — the first full rotation 360-degree back flip attempted in the York area.

The Monster Truck Fall Bash at York Fair in York City, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The free Froggy 107.7 country radio stage will include a whole host of artists spanning the genre, from rock to pop to singer-songwriter. 

Regional performers devoN Nickoles and Jordan Davis are returning this year, Holmes said, and the stage will see some bigger names such as LANCO and Mitchell Tenpenny.

Despite success, summer on radar: One good indicator of success, fair general manager Michael Froehlich has said, is the number of program entries.

And this year, Holmes said there is an increase in entries across the board, especially livestock — with some entering from other regions such as Maryland.

Back in February, fair management had been considering moving the fair to the summer months, and Holmes said that decision is still on the table.

More:Manager: Moving York Fair to summer could be 'catalyst'

The Expo Center hosted the Wild West Summer Fest in July, with rides, food, free admission and free parking as a way of gauging interest — and turnout was very successful, Holmes said.

If You Go:

When: Opens 11 a.m. Friday-Sunday, noon Monday-Thursday

Cost: Adults over 18, $8; ages 6 through 18 and college students with ID, $4; kids 5 and younger get in free; parking is $7; fair-long pass including one person plus parking, $75. 

More information: For more information on this year's fair, including discounted promo days, visit yorkfair.org.