The Maryland State Fair set an attendance record in the first year the event was held over three long weekends, organizers said.
Also helped by pleasant weather, attendance has increased by 16% this year, attracting a total of 588,120 visitors between Thursday evenings and Sundays, including Labor Day, according to a press release.
Previously, the event ran for 12 consecutive days, but fair organizers said the earlier start dates at many Maryland schools inspired the new format, allowing 4-H/Future Farmers of America youth and Open Class to show participants their farming skills and knowledge.
“The mission of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society is agricultural education. We moved to this new format because we didn’t want 4-H/FFA youth to have to choose between going to school and exhibiting at the Maryland State Fair,” said Maryland State Fair General Manager, D. Andrew Cashman, in a statement.
Youth from the fair’s 4-H/FFA livestock sale raised a record $177,500, which will go to 70 youth for a project in 2023 or for other educational purposes. The Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society also distributed $31,000 in college scholarships.
The show included new events this year, such as the LIVE! On track ! concert series with performances by Nelly, Niko Moon, Lauren Alaina and Styx. The first-ever long-horned cattle show at the Cow Palace saw over 50 entries, and the champion cattle show allowed people with special needs to learn more about goats.
Farmer Stan’s “Garden Grilled Cheese” won the fair’s new fair food competition with an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with fried green tomatoes, served with corn and peach salsa. Along with a trophy and ribbon, the winner received a $500 Restaurant Store gift card and a crab feast for six employees as prizes.