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With new three-weekend format this year, Maryland State Fair sets attendance records

The Maryland State Fair set an attendance record during the first year that the event was held over three long weekends, organizers said.

Helped also by pleasant weather, attendance increased by 16% this year, bringing in a total of 588,120 fairgoers between Thursday nights and Sundays, including Labor Day, according to a news release.

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Previously the event took place over 12 consecutive days, but fair organizers said earlier start dates for many Maryland schools inspired the new format, allowing youth in 4-H/Future Farmers of America and Open Class to show attendees their agricultural skills and knowledge.

“The Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society’s mission is agriculture education. We moved to this new format because we did not want the 4-H/FFA youth to have to choose between going to school and exhibiting at the Maryland State Fair,” Maryland State Fair General Manager D. Andrew Cashman said in a statement.

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Youth at the fair’s 4-H/FFA livestock sale raised $177,500, a record amount, which will go to 70 young people for a 2023 project or other educational purposes. The Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society also gave away $31,000 in college scholarships.

The fair included new events this year, such as the LIVE! OnTrack! concert series featuring performances by Nelly, Niko Moon, Lauren Alaina and Styx. The first-ever longhorn cattle show in the Cow Palace had more than 50 entries, and the champion livestock show allowed people with special needs to learn about goats.

Farmer Stan’s “Garden Grilled Cheese” won the fair’s new fair food contest with an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with fried green tomatoes, accompanied by a corn and peach salsa. Along with a trophy and a ribbon, the winner received a $500 gift card to the Restaurant Store and a crab feast for six employees as a prize.


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