Universal York

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York Fair chilly in 1937 but restaurant patrons hot

1937 York Fair information book. Courtesy of York County History Center

Only a few months until the 2017 York Fair. Although the animals and other exhibits are under roof, it still is very much an outdoor fair, with many activities at the mercy of the weather.

For many years the fair was held in October, about a month before the present September dates; it was moved up in the 1940s. An article from the Saturday, October 9, 1937, Gazette and Daily recounts how cold it could get in the early fall. Going from an all-time high of 105,000 paid admission on Thursday that week, the attendance dropped to 35,000 on Friday. The coat check concession had no business and refreshment stands switched from milk shakes and cold sodas to hot chocolate and coffee, reporting brisk sales. Sales of grandstand seats were way down, as many declined to sit in the cold wind.

Tempers flamed at the fair, though, as “angered patrons” complained of “unfair ‘come-on’” signs outside fair restaurants. The paper explained:

Practically all of the restaurants which make the fair circuits had large signs on the outside advertising “25c platters.” A frankfurter, piece of bread and coffee was the usual platter. The locally-operated restaurants could not be accused of this sort of chiseling.

One group of patrons was so outraged at these actions they formed a picket line outside and kept prospective patrons from entering. Others complained to the fair management.

Yesterday Midway Censor J.F. Murphy and several state police, at the order of the board of managers, told operators of the restaurants at fault they would have to close down until they had changed their tactics.

A few hours later the “25c platter” signs had all been either removed or covered with cloth. None were destroyed, for authorities at the next fair many not be so rigid in their restrictions.”

An online calculator figures $.25 to be equivalent to $4.25 today, probably not too far from getting you a hot dog and cup of coffee now–not exactly a “platter.”

Interesting there was a person in 1937 with the title of Midway Censor. I’ll bet there is a story in that. I doubt if the position was created to monitor food prices.

This link will take you to some of my previous posts on the York Fair.