State fair attendance best in years, organizer says

September 08, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Maryland State Fair that ended this week recorded its best attendance in years, a fair organizer said yesterday.

Between the opening on Aug. 26 and its last day on Labor Day, 489,711 people passed through the fairground's gates, said Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr., president and general manager of the fair and the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Timonium fairgrounds.

That's well above the 420,000 who attended the fair last year and the best attendance recorded since 1996, Mosner said. The record was set in 1990 when 618,000 people attended the fair.

Since then, fair organizers suspect, the scheduling of the first day of school before Labor Day in many counties and the introduction of simulcasting in racetrack gambling have cost the fair customers. Through simulcasting, people can bet on races at Timonium without having to be at the fairgrounds.

"We just can't get close to that now," Mosner said of the 1990 record. "Even bigger days aren't as big as they used to be."

He attributed this year's attendance increase to the popularity of new rides and the pig races.

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