LancasterOnline – News 2011-06-01 17:42:13

By on June 1, 2011

By: Andy Fasnacht

And as of next Monday evening, when the 88th edition of Pennsylvania’s largest street fair rolls into town, that tradition will go the way of five-cent balloons as the Ephrata Farmers Day Association (EFDA) convinced Ephrata Borough to move the long-standing street closing time from 9 to 7:30 p.m.

The changing of the closing time may seem insignificant but not the people responsible for getting the 140-plus concessions in place for the crowds that arrive Tuesday and stay through Saturday.

“It’s always so late,” said Terry Lesher, head of concessions and vice president of the EFDA. “We went to (council) to ask if we could shut down (streets) earlier and they approved.”

Lesher laughed when he said he originally “took a shot” at asking for 6 p.m. before the borough countered with 7:30.

“Anything is better than 9,” he said, adding that he didn’t get home until 2 a.m. Tuesday of last year.

Vendors were shocked but thrilled will get to bed at a decent hour on Monday to rest up for the big week ahead.
When asked why the long-time tradition of having the 9 p.m. road blocks go up at both ends of Main and State streets had endured so long, Lesher pointed to the changing climate of downtown Ephrata.

“Years ago there were more stores downtown,” he said. “A lot of the downtown stores aren’t open on a Monday night (now).”
He said 90 to 95 percent of the vendors know the new starting time.

Lesher said the deadline for removing vehicles from the
street has been set at 7 p.m.

Registrations for various contests and exhibits will be held Monday afternoon. This includes Tent City, which will be undergoing some minor changes of its own this year, due to its location near the recent sewer line work that went down Queen Street and through the softball outfield at Tom Grater Park over the summer.

Though the work is complete, what remains are extremely muddy conditions that have led the Tent City committee to move things around a bit.

“We had a concern for the people and the vehicular traffic,” said Tent City Co-Chair Sue Pfautz.

Most notable will be the relocation of all Tent City concessions to the large grassy area between the American Legion and the swimming pool as well as the Barnyard Academy and Petting Zoo. Though there was some concern about moving the food vendors, committee co-chair Rick Pfautz said that they have tried to make the most of the situation.

“They will all be there and be better than ever!” Rick said enthusiastically.

The popular shuttle service that takes visitors back and forth from the midway to Tent City, will now be making a stop at the corner of King and Vine streets.

Other highlights for 2006 in Tent City include a Black Hawk Helicopter at the Legion Field.

“We also will have more commercial exhibits than ever,” Rick said.

Other favorites such as the opening night “greased pig chase,” and Friday’s “family fun night,” will still be held down at the ballfield areas as well as the livestock, grain tent, other commercial exhibits, antique tractors and more.
Sue said she encourages everyone to use the shuttle bus and once Cocalico Street is cleared everything should be fine for the area that features the true “roots” of The Ephrata Fair.

“We are comfortable with the decision we made,” Sue said of the re-arrangement in the park.

The fair will begin recycling, and this year it starts in Tent City with the collection of soda cans and plastic bottles.

Before the pig chase kicks things off in the park, however, action will already be hopping downtown as the tempting delights of the midway begin making their way into the hands and mouths of anxious patrons at lunchtime Tuesday. By 6:30 p.m., the many rides of the midway area will begin to roar and the fair will be in full swing.

Though Wednesday is the day that boasts one of the largest street fair parades anywhere, it also features “senior citizens day” from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The grand parade steps off in front of Ephrata High School at 7 p.m.

Residents are reminded that no chairs or ropes can be put out prior to Sunday afternoon.

Thursday is highlighted by “kiddie’s day” from noon-6 p.m. There are also other fun events, treats and entertainment on West Main Street as well.

In addition to the Ephrata Area School District having off, all rides are reduced by one ticket during that time.
Friday is “family fun night” at Tent City and Saturday is topped off by the 50th anniversary of the “baby parade” at 1 p.m. There will also be entertainment on the stage behind the railroad station Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (see related article on page A23 this week).

For full details on the big week or to get registration forms and information, pick up the 88th Annual Ephrata Fair Premium book located at the fair office on South State Street or at The Ephrata Review front desk.

The Ephrata Fair is put on each and every last full week in September by the Ephrata Farmers Day Association. It all begins at 7:30 (not 9) Monday night!

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