York State Fair makes changes following long opening weekend lines

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

York State Fair organizers are making adjustments after an opening weekend of long lines and delays.

Spokesperson Montgomery Stambaugh said several new metal detectors will be brought to the grandstand to speed the ticket entry process along, in addition to a new protocol for how lines form.

These changes come after many fair attendees complained about long wait times to get to their seats — including West Manchester resident Mike Springer who stood in line for about an hour to see Saturday’s Styx and REO Speedwagon concert.

“This year, the lines feel longer than normal,” Springer said, adding that he's never waited that long to get into the grandstand for a show. “I can only assume it’s COVID related and there’s protocols in place today.”

Stambaugh said fair officials can only open the grandstand roughly 90 minutes to two hours prior to a show. In response to the weekend concert lines, Monday night's show featuring Kane Brown was expected to look different.

Though there will be only one line for ticket holders — as it has been in previous years — that single line will then be split into two between the plaza and track entrances based on where an individual's seat is located. 

“We normally don't have as many people as we had for that night — it was a very large concert night," Stambaugh said of the Styx and REO Speedwagon show. “So when you have 8,000 people, that can take a long time."

Fair-goers ride attractions as the midway opens at the York State Fair Monday, July 26, 2021. The fair's opening weekend was well-attended, according to a fair spokesperson. Bill Kalina photo

The York State Fair's opening weekend generated huge crowds of eager fans looking to get a taste of what they missed in 2020 due to its cancellation amid the pandemic. 

While Stambaugh said she could not release any official numbers as of Monday, she said she believes this year's total will exceed 2019.

Jim Victor works on the butter sculpture at the York State Fair Monday, July 26, 2021. He said this year patrons will be able to watch he and his wife, Marie Pelton, create the "clown car" sculpture in Memorial Hall. The fair's opening weekend was well-attended, according to a fair spokesperson. Bill Kalina photo

In 2019, attendance at the York Fair grew by 17% over 2018.

Total fair attendance in 2019 was 529,574  — approximately 79,401 more people from 2018's total of 450,173.

“For an opening day, it was kind of unknown how people would come out for COVID," Stambaugh said. "But we had people wind up about seven blocks down the street waiting to get into the fair."

The 2021 York State Fair is the first since the York County Agricultural Society decided to move its run from September to July. It runs through Aug. 1

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.