Think you have trouble finding a parking place at the Maryland State Fair? Try finding one for the handicapped.
That was the problem confronting Christie Creager and her husband, William Clagett, when they pulled up to the fair parking lot Aug. 29. She has a bad back that makes walking difficult; he uses crutches.
According to the Randallstown couple, after paying the parking fee Ms. Creager asked for a handicapped slot and was told they were all filled.
"We explained our problem to the attendant, and he was just plain rude," Mr. Clagett said. "He told us we could park in the middle of the field, and if we didn't like it he'd give us our dollar back."
Max Mosner, the fair's vice president and general manager, said parking is always a problem.
"We served 99,000 people on that Saturday," he said, noting that he had spoken to Mr. Clagett. "At least these people were able to get onto the fairgrounds. If they had come a bit later, the state police would have had the entrances closed. That's what they do when the lot fills up."
There are handicapped spaces at the fair entrance and at the race track entrance, Mr. Mosner said. When those lots fill up, fair officials let people drive up to the entrance and drop off passenger. In some instances, he said, people have called ahead or written to ask for a parking sticker that will let them park close.
"Apparently these people were not treated courteously by one of our employees, and I certainly regret that," he said. "I wish they could identify him so I could do something about it, but they said they couldn't."
He said the fair has 2,500 spaces -- close to half of which can be occupied by fair participants -- and about 25 handicapped slots.
State code calls for lots of more than 1,000 slots to have 20 handicapped spaces, plus one for every additional 100 beyond 1,000, so the fair should provide 35 spaces. But everyone agrees that 35 spaces probably would not do the job.
"As of Thursday, we had 321,220 people through here," Mr. Mosner said. "And this is the only complaint I've had. I take that complaint seriously; it's unfortunate. But by the end of this weekend, we'll probably have 600,000 people at the fair. Someone is not going to be happy."