The York Fair: Is it really about the prices?

Larry, left, and Janis Merritt push their 18-month-old son Evan past food stands at the York Fair Tuesday. They budgeted $100 to spend at the fair. Janis said that Evan is young enough that he just enjoys everything from his stroller.  YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL

Larry, left, and Janis Merritt push their 18-month-old son Evan past food stands at the York Fair Tuesday. They budgeted $100 to spend at the fair. Janis said that Evan is young enough that he just enjoys everything from his stroller. YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – PAUL KUEHNEL

The York Fair bounced back this weekend after some low-attendance numbers of 12,327 on Wednesday and 16,442 on Thursday.

Last week, we asked York Daily Record/Sunday News Facebook fans to explain the dip in attendance.

The question garnered more than 180 responses that primarily focused on a single consensus:

The price to attend the fair is … well … anything but fair.

Prices have gone up, but wages haven’t. 

Last week, guests paid $7 to park inside the gates and $8 per person for admission.

Here’s what some commenters had to say:

  • “Too expensive. We decided to go to Knoebels instead. Had a lot more fun for way less money.” — Tammy Nation
  • “Yeah it costs over $30 for a family of four just to get in when you include parking. That’s just stupid.” — Ron Hill
  • “Paid $8 for a cheese steak hoagie. Was definitely surprised when it came in a small hot dog roll mostly filled with lettuce.” — Brandon Connelly
  • “People are out of jobs and they aren’t even able to attend the fair because everything costs a fortune.” — Lisa Joines-Smith

These points seem valid until you consider other venues that operate seasonally with much higher price tags. 

People go to HersheyPark. There, admission costs almost $60 at the gate.

Kim Klinedinst of Capt. Crab Grill & Steamer, puts together a sandwich for a customer on Thursday at the York Fair. YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS--JASON PLOTKIN

Kim Klinedinst of Capt. Crab Grill & Steamer, puts together a sandwich for a customer on Thursday at the York Fair. YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS–JASON PLOTKIN

A pass to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster County is $35.75 if you’re over the age of 3.

At the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, adults pay $29.95 at the gate.

Yet, these establishments manage to exist year after year.

Oh, and sports games. Attending a football match for the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and even Penn State isn’t cheap either.

Buy your tickets and popcorn at the movies, and you’ll burn through some serious cash these days.

You get the point.

The fair is just one of those things. You expect to pay.

And I’m not convinced the drop in attendance all about the benjamins.

If you have self control, the fair doesn’t have to break the bank.

There are plenty of options for free admission on various days.

Don’t buy your kid everything they demand.

Split that $8 cheesesteak. Pack snacks. Eat before you come.

Park offsite and walk. At some of the nearby lots, you can get a spot for just $5.

Here’s a novel idea. Maybe fairs, in general, are fading.

It’s an old fashioned way to amuse yourself.

There’s nothing less digital than a game of “I Got It.”

The fair celebrates farming and agriculture. And there’s less and less of that going on, too.

Decades ago, people went to the fair to meet people and find their friends.

Today, there’s text messaging, social media, dating sites and less need for face-to-face interaction.

If the fair is dying, we probably killed it.

About Lauren Boyer

I'm a Business Reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I cover banking, investing and all sorts of manufacturing, from companies like Harley-Davidson to mom-and-pop operations. I don't go anywhere without my iPad or a large cup of coffee. Contact me with story ideas at 717-771-2062 or lboyer@ydr.com.
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One Response to The York Fair: Is it really about the prices?

  1. Jesse Lentz says:

    So all your data points to the fair being too expensive as the reason for the low attendance but your conclusion just completely ignores the data?
    Your comparisons to Hersheypark is completely invalid. For the cost of Hersheypark’s admission you get unlimited access to a lot of rides that are far superior to anything at the York Fair. To ride the rides all day at The fair would cost a fortune.
    Eat before the fair? The food is the primary reason to go to the fair. Share a cheese steak that one person already mentioned is way too small for the price?
    Based on my conversations with other people, the price is the reason for the drop in attendance. Its the reason I didn’t go for sure.

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