The 2017 Maryland State Fair set the record for third-best attendance ever. The Maryland State Fair team attributes much of their attendance-based success to the new "Let Summer Be Summer" campaign led by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot. This campaign mandated that schools return after Labor Day: allowing Maryland families to spend their last week of summer at the Maryland State Fair which runs through Labor Day. "Despite two days of rain, our Fair attendance report shows a 20 percent increase since last year with 555,841 guests and exhibitors who graced our grounds during 12 days of the Maryland State Fair, the third best attendance on record," says Maryland State Fair Assistant General Manager, Becky Brashear.
Admission into the Maryland State Fair is $8 for adults, $6 for senio
rs (62 and over), $3 for children (6-11), and children 5 and under are free. Admission does not include ride tickets but the Maryland State Fair in conjunction with Deggeller Attractions, provided several advanced sale ride ticket discount opportunities. Advanced admission, rides, and food tickets were available to be purchased no later than August 18th. Fair guests could "fare better" by purchasing a $100 minimum of any combination of admission tickets, ride wristbands, or food coupons. The Maryland State Fair also offered a Preview Night with "RIDEMANIA" on Thursday, August 24th from 5pm-11pm. Fairgoers could purchase an admission and ride wristband for $20 or a walk around admission ticket for $1. $25 unlimited ride wristbands were available Monday-Thursday of the fair and $27 wristbands were available on Labor Day. Weekend wristbands could be purchased in advance only. $5 off ride all rides wristband coupons were sold at Food Lion.
In addition to the carnival midway provided by Deggeller Attractions, the Maryland State Fair provided lots of entertainment for families and guests to enjoy. On the first weekend of the fair, two concerts took place at the infield of the Maryland State Fair racetrack. Rock band Halestorm took the stage on Friday, August 25th. Tickets were $40 for festival standing admission and $50 for pit standing admission. On Saturday, August 26th, Disney star Sabrina Carpenter was the headline act and Youtube star Alex Aiono opened for her. Again, tickets were $40 for standing general admission and $50 for pit standing admission.
This year, the fair also featured the Swifty Swine Racing and Swimming Pig Show everyday throughout the fair. Shows took place five times per day: 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30 pm, 6:30pm, and 8:00pm. Another unique opportunity for family entertainment at the 2017 Maryland State Fair is thoroughbred horse racing with wagering. For 2017's fair, there were 7 days of racing with purses of $185,000 daily, up more than 16% from 2016. This year, the meet had an added money event: the $75,000 guaranteed (plus $25,000 for Maryland-Bred/Maryland-Sired) Coalition Stakes for 3 year olds and up going 6 1/2 furlongs, with an additional $10,000 bonus to the winner if it is a Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic Sale graduate. The stakes are a reflection of cooperation between the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, and the Fasig-Tipton Sales Company. " This cooperative effort between all the parties involved in this race meet is a reflection of the continued team spirit in Maryland that has been such a huge factor in the renaissance of Maryland's thoroughbred industry is currently enjoying. It's all part of making racing in Maryland great again. We are all really excited about the upcoming meet at Timonium," says Andy Cashman, General Manager of the Maryland State Fair. Races took place August 25th-Sepetember 4th.
The Maryland State Fair also hosted the state championship of amateur arm wrestling on Saturday, September 2nd on the Carolina Carport Free Stage. All competitors who won a match received national rankings and local bragging rights. All competitors that reach the quarter-finals received special seeding into the Grand Finale at the Arizona State Fair in October. There were 5 men's divisions: Featherweight (under 144), Lightweight (145-169), Middleweight (170-193), Light Heavyweight (194-219), and Heavyweight (220 and above). There were 2 women's classes: lightweight (144 and under), and open division (above 145).
Educational opportunities to learn more about agriculture are a big part of the Maryland State Fair. The Innovation Station...STEM Growing With You featured The Butterfly Encounter, The Agriculture Planetarium, and a Ethanol Remote Car Race Track. Another great opportunity for fairgoers to learn about agriculture is the U-Learn Farm which features a variety of fun and educational hands-on activities and exhibits such as a reading nook, and a Q&A session with local farmers. The fair also featured a birthing center, giving fair guests the opportunity to watch the births of calves and piglets.
The 2017 Maryland State Fair Livestock Sale was a special one. Four 4-Hers shared some of the proceeds of their livestock sales with the Kaisy Knott medical fund; Daisy Knott is a fellow 4-H member who is fighting childhood cancer. Kaylie Shelton sold her 1364 pound Grand Champion Market Steer for $15,004; Mickinzi Ferguson sold her 284 pound Grand Champion Market Hog for $3,976; Tate Bittner sold his 74 pound Grand Champion Market Goat for $800 and his 139 pound Grand Champion Market Lamb for $1,399.
One of the best parts of the state fair is the food! The Maryland State Fair was the site of a new world record. Goetze's Candy Company announced that they would be setting an all new world's record at the Maryland State Fair with the largest Cow Tales ever recorded. Their goal was to create a Cow Tales that measured approximately 10 feet in length. The giant candy was featured the front of the Bulk Candy Store inside the Exhibition Hall. Pieces of the record setting Cow Tales were sold the last few days of the fair with all proceeds going to the Maryland State Fair Scholarship Fund.
The Maryland Foods Pavilion featured pulled pork sundaes, fried green tomatoes, and other Maryland favorites back by popular demand. Fair guests could watch daily cooking demonstrations and delicious samples of fresh popped kettle corn in the display area. "The Maryland Foods Pavilion has been one of the greatest successes. Hundreds of people have told me that it is the main attraction that keeps them coming back to the Maryland State Fair. And, it is always their first stop for a great meal," says Chairman Stan Dabkowski.