York State Fair official: We will 'do what we have to do' to meet state guidelines

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The 2020 York State Fair was set to premiere a number of new features at the longstanding agricultural festival, including a new name, new midway provider and new dates.

Then COVID-19 hit, and the fair was canceled for the first time since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

"It was certainly disappointing to us because we had spent just an insane amount of time planning and getting everything together," said Bryan Blair, CEO of the York State Fair and York Expo Center. "It was kind of like we yanked the rug out from under our own feet."

Aside from the 1918 Spanish Flu, the only other record of the fair being canceled was during the U.S. Civil War, he said.

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As of Tuesday, the 2021 York State Fair was scheduled to take place July 23-Aug. 1.

Restrictions and limitations on gatherings could change in the next six months, Blair said, so the organization is keeping its options open while moving ahead with plans.

The fair announced a full concert line-up for this year's fair, with headliners such as Pitbull, REO Speedwagon & Styx, country singer Kane Brown and contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns.

From left, siblings Aidan Myers, 9, Mikayla Myers, 10, and Aubrey Myers, 9, all of Jackson Township, ride the Cliff Hanger at York Fair in West Manchester Township, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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In the meantime, the organization has been working to improve safety for guests and patrons.

The York State Fair and York Expo Center used about $450,000 of its federal coronavirus relief funds to install ultraviolet air purifiers — which are designed to eliminate 99% of germs in the air — in the HVAC system inside Memorial Hall and other indoor spaces.

The organization installed several automatic sliding doors and upgraded the bathroom sinks and toilets to have touchless sensors and reduce the number of high-touch surfaces, Blair said.

They also doubled the number of hand sanitizer stations, he said.

If restrictions and guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings were to change, the fair would adapt, Blair said, but it's too early to know what the requirements will be by the time the fair rolls around.

York Fair in West Manchester Township, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

As of Tuesday, per the state Department of Health's guidelines, indoor spaces with capacity for 2,000 people must have no more than 10% capacity. For spaces with capacity for up to 10,000 people, the maximum is 5%, and for spaces with capacity for more than 10,000 people, a maximum of 500 people are allowed.

For outdoor events, spaces with capacity for 2,000 people must have no more than 15% capacity. For spaces with capacity for up to 10,000 people, the maximum is 10%, and for spaces with capacity for more than 10,000 people, a maximum of 5%, but no more than 2,500 people, are allowed.

"We will obviously do what we have to do to fall within the parameters and the guidelines," Blair said.

Tickets for some concerts are already on sale and can be purchased online at yorkstatefair.org.