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Maryland State Fair attributes boost in attendance to post-Labor Day school start

Sights and sounds of this year's Maryland State Fair, including food, games and a butterfly feeding demonstration. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland State Fair officials attributed a 20 percent boost in attendance at this year's event to the switch to starting schools after Labor Day.

The fair had 555,841 guests and exhibitors over the 12 days of the event, the third-best attendance on record. The most guests attended in 1990, with 618,998, and the second-most in 2015, with 561,426.

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Fair officials blamed school starting in mid-August on hurting attendance "over several decades."

"The return of schools after Labor Day not only increases our attendance, but reduces the stress on our 4-H/FFA and Open Class livestock exhibitors, staff, and leadership who had to juggle schedules to participate in the fair," Maryland State Fair Assistant General Manager Becky Brashear said in a statement.

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Gov. Larry Hogan ordered schools to start after Labor Day, a change that went into effect this year. Hogan said the change would help tourism in Ocean City and in Western Maryland.

The 2018 Maryland State Fair is set for August 23 through September 3.

Gov. Larry Hogan made clear on Tuesday that any school districts seeking to get around his executive order to start school after Labor Day won't be permitted to do so.
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