“So I thought the Fair was in September? But you say you work there and it’s April? What do you the rest of the year?”
Those are among the most common questions that those of us who are fortunate enough to work in the Fair Administration business get on at least a weekly, if not a daily, basis.
While it is true that the Fair is only held once a year, like many fairgrounds across the nation there are many events held at the York Exposition Center each year and several people who work behind the scenes to make them all happen.
At any given time we have around 40 people on our payroll here at the York Expo Center, and that number swells to around 475 during the annual York Fair. In fact, our annual payroll was in the neighborhood of $1.5 million for 2018.
While it is helpful for you to know those numbers, that still doesn’t answer the question of “What do you do there all year long?”.
You may not realize that the York Expo Center serves as the “unofficial Convention Center” for York County. In 2018 we served as host to nearly 200 events. These events come in all sizes from the Train Collectors Association Train Show, Keystone Farm Show and NSRA Street Rod Nationals East which utilize all buildings on the Expo Center grounds, to athletic events such as Wrestling and Volleyball Tournaments which utilize the York Expo Arena and Memorial Hall, to events such as Gun Shows, Antique Sales, Dog Shows, Car Shows, Consignment Sales and private corporate functions that use one or two buildings or rooms.
Behind the scenes of our year-round operation is a dedicated team that provides the professional support that make each of these events successful. Our maintenance department consists of two shifts of some of the hardest working and often unheralded team members. They are responsible for set ups, tear downs, custodial service, repairs, general maintenance, snow removal and more. Truly, they are our boots on the ground and are often the front line to our clients and our public.
In our Administrative Offices a small but mighty team oversees various aspects of the day to day business ranging from finances, marketing, sales, sponsorships and operations. Each one plays a vital role in the successes that we are achieving at the York Exposition Center.
Recently, at the annual Life Member meeting of the York County Agricultural Society, I made the statement that our Fair and Non-Fair business go hand in hand. The success that we have during the Non-Fair times allows us to invest into planning the annual York Fair each year and the success we have during the Fair each year allows us to invest in continuing to operate as a facility 365 days of the year. Both sides of our operation are the parts that equal the whole.
However, there is little doubt that the reason we are all here is because of the York Fair. As “America’s First Fair”, it is the crown jewel of the events held here and without its rich history none of us, nor this facility would be here at the level we are today.
Even with all of the day to day operations that we have for the eleven months surrounding the Fair, that one month of the year is literally in the works all year long. There’s not a day that goes by that we aren’t planning some aspect of the Fair right along with everything else we take care of daily.
Despite how it may seem, the Fair doesn’t just happen overnight. There are countless hours of planning and preparing. Everything from vendor contracts, employee hiring, ticket printing, maintenance items, designing layouts, putting together marketing and advertising plans and virtually every little detail that it takes to pull off an event that goes seamlessly and flawlessly.
If we all do our jobs successfully when you come to an event at the York Expo Center, whether it’s a dog show or the annual York Fair, you don’t even know we are here and our goal is to make it appear like the Fair or Show really does happen on its own.
Most everyone that works in the Fair and Exposition field will tell you that they have a passion for what they do. The sometimes long and grueling hours that are sometimes spent by all of us are always worth it when we see our event guests making memories. After all, at the end of every day that’s what we are here for!
Until next month, may all your days be Fair days!