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‘Fair’well, Terry Concessions head retires
JOHN CRAWFORD Review Correspondent
, Staff Writer
As the lights went off at this year’s Ephrata Fair on Saturday night, Terry Lesher finished his 12-year stint as serving as head of concessions.
"It’s been a great run," said Lesher. "I have no regrets. A lot of people don’t realize what all the volunteers do. People think the fair comes once a year and you work the one week and it’s over. I don’t think a lot of people have any idea what it takes to do this."
For the past 12 years, Lesher has been in charge of the contracts, positioning and other details involved in aligning the vendors selling the food, games and rides that define the Fair. That has been a year-round commitment between the meetings and the clerical duties.
"The board itself has meetings all year," explained Lesher. "We only miss two months a year. As far as me with concessions, I mail the contracts out in April."
"There’s probably 70 to 80 (vendors)," he continued. "That’s probably 130 to 140 stands. We don’t have much room for much else."
While the position takes time throughout the year, the longest hours come right before the lights go on as the vendors set up on the street a day before the official opening.
"I doubt if (my hours this week) stop at 40. It’s probably 50 to 55. I was here until quarter after one. I showed up around 3:30 p.m.
"For the last couple of years, set up has gone smoothly," he continued. "It’s nothing like it used to be. We made a few changes and stuff and it seems to go so much better. It changed a lot when they put the curbs in. The people who are on the curb come in a little early before the people on the street line up. It might have slowed things down at first but the people who are on the curb, they have it down pat. They know what to do. It’s the same people every year. It just goes quick."
The curb stands have got the process down but the real "carnies" move even quicker.
"People probably find it hard to believe but you probably have more trouble with your local people," said Lesher. "The local vendors do it once a year. These guys do it every week. They know what they’ve got to do. With carnies, they come in, set up, tear down and go home right away."
Working with the professional carnival people has been one of the perks of the job.
"The best part of the job is really meeting a lot of different people. Back years ago, carnies had a name. People felt there was always trouble with them. I met some of the nicest people I ever met in my life with these people. They can put the show up. They all own rides. They are very nice people."
Lesher’s direct involvement with the fair came about when a friend convinced him to help.
"My buddy Vick Richards used to be in charge of concessions and I started helping him," he said. "He quit and this is my 12th year."
His involvement in the Ephrata Fair goes back long before he became part of the Fair’s Board.
"Ever since I was growing up, I was in love with fairs," he explained. "There is something about the lights and stuff. I just love to see them. I got involved with concessions stands. I have a goldfish stand here."
"I have a small business called Terry’s Concessions. I set up my goldfish stand for six or seven years prior. Win a goldfish with ping pong balls. I set up at other fairs."
Lesher actually "retired" from the carnival life earlier but got back into it.
"I was in 20 years ago and then I got out of it. I sold it. I got back into it six or seven years ago. My grandchildren like it."
Having left the carnival business once already, begs the question if there will be another comeback. For now, he says, the answer is no – maybe.
"I’m not saying that down the road I might not come back. Who knows? Maybe after I retire and don’t have to work on a regular basis."
More LESHER, page A20