York Fair–Fun, Food, Family and Friends
Chicken judging at York Fair, 1947
Time again for the York Fair. This year I hope to get there to sample in person two things I have included in posts the past year–harness racing and Bury’s hamburgers.
It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those great baked potatoes from the Jaycees stand too. How about York Little Theater steak sandwiches, Lola’s lemonade, funnel cakes, waffle ice cream sandwiches, cotton candy, caramel apples, ham and cheese sandwiches… ? Fair memories are flooding back–funny how most of them have to do with food. I do plan to see more of the fair, perhaps even see some of the animals with the younger members of the family. Of course, the longer I stay, the more I’ll have time to eat.
It seems that harness racing doesn’t get much publicity, but the York Fair website says that post times are at 6 p.m. Monday and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. There is no additional charge for the grandstand to see the races.
For some background–see below for a brief history of the York County Agricultural Society, the organization behind the York Fair, based on the account in Gibson’s 1887 History of York County:
A public meeting was held on November 22, 1851 to form a society “to foster and improve agriculture, horticulture and the domestic and household arts.” The first exhibition was held October 5, 6 and 7, 1853 on the public (Penn) Common. In 1855 land was purchased for fairgrounds. It eventually covered 14 acres from King to Prospect streets, just east of Queen Street. (Click here for map.)
Gibson’s states: “The annual exhibitions not only furnish the exhibitor the means of calling attention to the new labor saving methods, fertilizers, farm machinery and stock, but also serve as an annual reunion, as it were, of friends and relations, who meet and discuss questions mutually interesting, arising out of past experiences in farming.”
Thursdays were the days of highest attendance, with estimates of crowds of 13,000 to 22,000 on that day. That seems like a lot of people to pack into 14 acres, and the article does point out that the grounds are landlocked, with the race track only a 1/3 mile circuit because of space. The society purchased the 74 acre Smyser farm in West Manchester Township in 1887, at the northwestern border of York, and quickly erected the necessary buildings on the site still used today.
York Fair Jersey Cow champion 1965
Maybe most of us now go for the food, rides and concerts instead of fertilizers and farm machinery, but we can still see animals and still have a good time with relatives and friends, just like they did in 1887.
Click the links below for more York Fair history related posts.
Glenalvin Goodridge wins photography awards.
1867 Fair racing news account.
1929 York Fair racing.
Still both harness races and races with jockies at 1959 fair.
Nosses may have captured some York Fair racing on film.
1877 flooding strands fairgoers at High Rock.
Click this link to go to York Fair’s website.