State OKs York Fair rebranding — with conditions

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The York Fair is changing its name to the York State Fair, and the state Department of Agriculture doesn't have an issue with it as long as it doesn't brand itself as Pennsylvania's state fair, the department said Friday.

"Pennsylvania’s state fair is the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January," said spokeswoman Shannon Powers.

The York County Agricultural Society Board of Directors voted earlier this month to change the fair's name, according to a news release.

The York Fair is similar in size to state fairs across the country with regard to production, facilities, attendance, entertainment and competitors, said fair spokeswoman Brianna Holmes, so the board thought the change would be appropriate.

York Fair in West Manchester Township, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

For comparison, Holmes said, the Tulsa State Fair in Oklahoma and the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair in Louisiana are both privately owned and operated and utilize the "state fair" title.

"We’re hoping that it’s positive, and it’s going to be part of our rebranding," Holmes said.

Powers clarified that although the York Fair is privately operated, the state does reimburse the fair for the prize money distributed to its contest winners.

For the past three years, the York Fair's reimbursement was $29,000, she said.

There are 107 regional fairs in Pennsylvania, and they vary widely from place to place, Powers said. 

"Some of them are purely agricultural fairs where you’re going to go see a championship pumpkin and a kid showing their prize pig," she said.

Others, such as the York Fair, have live entertainment and midway amusement park rides, Powers added.

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The fair's new name will go into effect Sept. 16, the day after the 2019 fair ends, with a new logo going live in 2020, Holmes said.

This is the second major change to the fair in less than a year.

The board of directors announced in late 2018 that beginning in 2020, the York Fair will be held in late July instead of September to boost attendance numbers and have a better chance of good weather.

More than 4½ inches of rain fell during the first five days of the 2018 fair, and attendance fell to 450,173 people, a 20.4% drop from the 2017 total of 565,483 people.

The ability to attract higher-profile touring artists during the summer was another factor in the decision.

As for the 2019 fair, the grandstand lineup includes country stars Brad Paisley and Brantley Gilbert, three metal bands and ventriloquy phenom Darci Lynne as well as contemporary Christian band Bethel Music.

"We just want to remind people that this year’s fair is still in September," Holmes said.

The 2019 York Fair will run from Friday, Sept. 6, to Sunday, Sept. 15. For more information, visit or call 717-848-2596.