Only in York County

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A reader recalls the York Fair in years past

Another great thing about the York Fair - the opportunities it offers to take interesting photos, especially at night.
Another great thing about the York Fair – the opportunities it offers to take interesting photos, especially at night, like this one taken by Only in York County author Joan Concilio in 2011.

What better topic to share memories on this week than the York Fair?

I have a blast on Facebook reading the York Fair Memories group, and I’m hoping many readers will have their own comments to share after reading the fun letter I have to share today from Wayne Breighner of Red Lion.

Wayne writes, “As fair week and high school football season is closing in, this might be of interest to your readers. I remember when the Straits shows came by rail every year and after dropping of the equipment inside the fairgrounds, the personnel living quarters were parked behind JR’s CafĂ© from Market to Highland Ave. Rarely was there any problems,” he said, but added that one year, he remembers what he described as an “uprising” between some of the show’s workers and some “hoodlums” locally. “The local West York police force was not equipped for an uprising and called in reinforcements to quell the uprising,” Wayne wrote. “Outside of some injured property and some minor bruising, all ended well.”

He continued, “Meanwhile, back to the Fair, in ancient times I remember the great stage shows… I remember when the stage was not equipped for bad weather. We were entertained by the likes of Bob Hope, Tennessee Ernie Ford… Joey Chitwood was every Saturday, both matinee and evening, with his Dare Devils, and every afternoon Tuesday to Friday were Sulky races.”

Then, Wayne got to my favorite part of the Fair… food. All of the food.

He writes, “I remember all the local food stands with UNHEALTHY BUT DELICIOUS food, hamburgers in sauce, ice cold orange drink with loads of sugar added, extra sweet lemonade, frozen custard, funnel cakes, Italian sausage, gyros, baked potatoes, pork roll sandwiches, Amish ham and cheese sandwiches, saltwater taffy, homemade fudge and such.”

And, he concluded, “Then there was ‘Jack the blanket man’ located on the main concourse, and Saturday evening he would clear his stand; you bought a numbered ticket and he spun a numbered wheel, and if you had the right number you won the prize(s); one Saturday evening with two toddlers in tow, pushing a stroller and a wife who was well along to adding another to our family tree, I bought a chance as we walked by the stand, and we won numerous blankets and stuffed animals, and we had to call family to meet us at the Carlisle gate to get everything home, and we even remembered to get the kids home too!”

Wayne, these memories were perfect for Fair season. I have “only” been going to the fair for 30-some years and it is definitely among my fondest York County memories. I’m hoping readers will share their favorite Fair memories as well!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.