Oh, what fun it was! 94th Ephrata Fair had something for everyone

By on October 3, 2012

By: REVIEW STAFF, Staff Writer

There may have been a new ride vendor for the Ephrata Fair 2012, but the Zipper, shown here in all its fury and lit splendor, remained a huge hit with many fairgoers. (Photo by Stan Hall)

What a week. From age-old traditions like the greased pig chase at Tent City and the baby parade, to the brand new all-inclusive ride wristbands and fair footprint, the 94th annual Ephrata Fair was a celebration to remember.

"Our board of directors and volunteers did a tremendous job this year," said Ephrata Farmers Day President Matt Smith. "I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication."

The community bid a fond farewell to Sweigart’s famous fair delight as its last batch of cheesesteaks was served at the close of Saturday’s festivities, but welcomed a new ride operator, Houghton Enterprises, who lit up the streets with favorites like the ferris wheel and carousel, the ever-popular Zipper and a few new offerings as well.

"Being their first year, they had to make a lot of adjustments on the fly to get enough rides in the new footprint," said Fair President Matt Smith. "Houghton brought a taste of days gone by. Everything from strolling musicians and magicians to the Carousel and Ferris Wheel. It was a very memorable year. We’re very pleased with their performance."

But Houghton’s isn’t the only debut performance worth noting. Downtown Ephrata’s newest addition, The Whistle Stop Plaza, hosted musical entertainment throughout the week, sponsored by Beam’s Music.

"I don’t know if the railroad lot has ever looked any better than it did this year," said Smith.

Betsy and Randy Leinbach reported positive feedback from spectators and participants about Wednesday’s parade despite dodging afternoon showers. Although rain threatened to curb the event, faithful fairgoers saved their sidewalk seats to watch decorated bands and floats wind throughout town. Garden Spot High School marched to a first place finish as Best High School Band, while Reamstown Cub Pack 60 joined other first-place winners in the float contest. Newcomer the Eagles Pep Band was a big hit along with the Woodland String Band, which returned this year, and a new favorite in recent years, "The Orange Crush" band from Lincoln University.

Cool but comfortable fall weather greeted participants and spectators Saturday for the baby parade. Entries were down compared to previous years, but observers still enjoyed cute and creative floats and strollers.

There may have been a glitch here and there, but it’s expected with an operation as big as the largest street fair in Pennsylvania. There were no major crimes, incidents or injuries reported.

"Of course, in every Fair you have an occasional incident," said Smith, "but our Emergency Services are the best in the area and did a great job of controlling everything."

Overall, the nearly century-old community staple was another success. Smith said the financial impact of this year’s fair will be assessed in weeks to come, but "early indications are very positive."

"As President I had the opportunity to get a different perspective of the Fair," said Smith, who was serving in this role for the first time. "It was truly amazing to watch all of this come together. You get a whole new appreciation for the incredible amount of time and energy that goes into the Ephrata Fair each year.

"The highlight of the Fair for me was the atmosphere all week. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. I think the changes this year had a lot to do with it."

Next year’s fair is scheduled for Sept. 24-28, 2013. More EPHRATA FAIR, page A18

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