Impact of Town Fair's New Location Uncertain

After 15 town fairs held in Perry Hall, a rebranded event is planned for July 14 in Middle River.

Location, location, location.

Volunteers are just days away from discovering how a Middle River zip code will impact attendance at the , known in past years as the .

"It's just three miles away from Perry Hall—just three miles," said Lynn Richardson, president of the Perry Hall/White Marsh Business Association and the fair's head organizer. "I tell people in Perry Hall that it's not about taking anything away from them. It's about sharing the event with more communities."

But it's not just the geography that's changing this year. Fair organizers have also removed both Perry Hall and White Marsh from the fair's official name. Richardson said the name change—advertised on the website, posters and even a billboard—was part of an effort to increase the fair's regional appeal.

Richardson first in January that the 2012 fair would be held on . The newly built shopping center is located along White Marsh Boulevard (MD Route 43) in Middle River, bordering an area known as White Marsh's commercial district.

The new fairgrounds, however, came as a shock to many past attendees. All previous fairs—15 total—have been held at Perry Hall venues, including , and .

Several Perry Hall Patch readers—on the Patch website, as well as its Facebook page—threatened to boycott the fair, while others complained that the fair had lost touch with its small town roots.

One commenter, listed as Eric Martin, wrote in January: "If it's in Middle River, or anywhere other than a Perry Hall venue, I'll skip it. Hope those who made this awful decision have a good time by themselves."

But Richardson recently told Patch that threats of boycotts and poor attendance have lost their sting over the past six months.

The fair has sold out its vendor space, around 200 spots, and retained many of the same Perry Hall businesses that had previously participated.

With expanded regional advertising and easy access to the new location from White Marsh Boulevard and Interstate 95, attendance may actually exceed last year's record-breaking crowd of more than 13,000, Richardson said.

It was last year's heavy crowds that contributed to conflict surrounding the 2011 fair at . Parking and other property pitted fair volunteers against shopping center managers. After holding the fair at the center in 2010 and 2011, Richardson said organizers no longer felt welcome.

Previously, the fair was ousted from its home at Perry Hall High School in 2009 due to a controversial , known as Rule 1300. It banned third-party use of school system property, meaning that groups and organization could not rent table space to vendors.

After a to the rule in August 2011 allowed a to return to Perry Hall High, some the Perry Hall/White Marsh Town Fair follow suit.

Richardson, however, said issues with parking and school regulations would have prevented basic fair attractions like a petting zoo and moon bounce. It was then that the planning committee turned to the new .

"They have been fabulous to work with. They have bent over backwards for us. There is going to be plenty of easy parking and space," Richardson said.

, who was involved in planning the first town fair at —initially known as the Perry Hall Town Fair—said he plans to support this year's event.

"I would have preferred a location in the heart of Perry Hall, but I understand the obstacles. I strongly encourage everyone to go and support these volunteers," Marks said. "It's still an opportunity to support many great Perry Hall causes and businesses."

Barbara Dingedahl, a longtime Perry Hall resident and fair attendee, said that after months of discussing the new location with family and friends, she believes the community should give the new fairgrounds a try.

"I went online to look at the set-up and it looks really nice," Dingedahl said. "I don't think people should boycott something before they've even given it a chance."

While Beth Olcott, another longtime Perry Hall resident, isn't encouraging others to skip the fair, she has no plans to attend on Saturday.

"What I liked about the Perry Hall Town Fair was you actually saw your neighbors. You saw people you hadn't seen in years. I don't know how many people from the Perry Hall area are even going to go," Olcott said.

Olcott said that seeing advertisements for this year's fair without Perry Hall or White Marsh in the name has been a jarring experience. She added that she believes either Perry Hall High School or remain ideal locations for the fairs.

"I understand that there are school and county regulations. Honestly, I blame the Perry Hall merchants who don't want it here. The Middle River merchants do. It's not Middle River's fault that we gave the fair to them," she added.

How do you think the town fair's location change from Perry Hall to Middle River will impact attendance? Are you planning to attend? Tell us in the comments.

John Doe July 11, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Jenny July 11, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Goodness. If you have enjoyed the fair in the past, go as you will enjoy again. Stop sweating the small stuff and enjoy a facility that is excited to have the event and offers easier access and better parking. If you truly can't get over a new location just outside PH, then don't go but let it go and wish it well.
amh July 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM
We just lost something very special to us -"The Perry Hall Town Fair". Give the community time to mourn and accept it. :-(
Elaine Girardi July 12, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Well said amh. That about sums it up!!!
MIL July 12, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Maybe it's time for some of us to get together and organize a "real" PERRY HALL town fair. Let Middle River have our old fair. We'll get another one up and running just like it used to be.
John Doe July 12, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I would be willing to be part of a committee to do this in late fall, early winter. Also, they shouldn't be calling it the 16th Town Fair - it is the 1st Middle River Town Fair.
patrick pfarr July 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Steve - we had a meeting and you're not invited.
Emily Kimball (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Lynn Richardson, Town Fair organizer speaks out about recent push-back from residents with strong opinions about the fair's new location - http://patch.com/B-cdq9 Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the comments.
Mike Lurz July 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
My family and I will not attend either, we were totally against this forced development, and now you want us to put on our happy face for a neighborhood fair that isn't even in our neighborhood anymore?...no thanks..BTW why are we not having it at the rec center...you know the place our tax dollars paid for?
Mike Lurz July 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
HLV, I did not see a single poster say they weren't going because they wouldnt be caught dead in Middle River...you are making things up...with that in mind, perhaps we should have the town fair in Fells Point.
ARG July 12, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I would also be interested in being on this committee. I grew up in Kingsville and know the importance of community. I am not ashamed to go to MIddle River i just believe that Kingsville and Perry Hall have a vested interest in the immediate community. Middle River is a bit far for them to be local community.
ARG July 12, 2012 at 08:54 PM
i understand Lynn commented on the move, however we are unable to leave comments on her seperate comment. Was the parking lot of the old superfresh thought of? it is plenty of space and the parking lot of the perry hall shopping center could be used. I am surprised that the Honeygo Community Center would say no. This is a community event.
Betty R. Bednar July 12, 2012 at 09:00 PM
According to the East County Times, Perry Hall Town Fair is now "The 16th Annual Town Fair". Not a mention of Perry Hall.
ARG July 12, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I think the real issue is the over development. At some point it has to stop.
Bill Howard July 13, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Don't be petty folks! Go to to the fair. There will be a lot of small and medium businesses there. They are job creators and they give to the community. I will go because it is fun and a lot of good people there.
John Doe July 13, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Ms. Richardson stated in a prior blog - "The only downside is that it is not in a Perry Hall or White Marsh zip code" - well, there's the rub. That is why people are upset - no more/no less.
Tim July 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Jobs also get created when the middle class has money to spend. Too bad it's been squeezed for the past 30 years. You can't create jobs, size of business regardless, unless you have demand.
Tim July 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Tim July 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
better drinking options there, to be honest.
You July 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Well they are being honest. Maybe Lynn should have addressed the public that is was no longer a Perry Hall/ White Marsh town fair, what was she hiding? Oh then again if Lynn said it was no longer the Perry Hall/ White Marsh Town Fair then why would she be wasting our communities time and money by working on a fair that is not basically our communities. Sounds like some corruption going on here.
You July 13, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Ms. Richardson. Why must the fair be bigger anyways (money)? Why not just limit it to LOCAL businesses and LOCAL arts and LOCAL promotions of our parks and public services? Oh thats right, because then it would be an Actual Town Fair.
Chris S. July 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
What don't I get here. It's only Perry Hall, it is not Beverly Hills, stop turning your nose up at Middle River. I live in Perry Hall, but I will attend to support to local business. That is the point, if you think it is something else you are wrong. Get off your high horses and support local business. Stop complaining about having to drive another three miles to have better parking, and a larger area to enjoy yourself.
Greg Redmer Jr July 14, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Maybe we could you all this open space our community is collecting for next year
Other Tim July 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Wasn't sure if I was going until I saw the weather. Now I'm going for sure. The showers will probably affect attendance. I don't want all the naysayers claiming attendance was low simply because of location.
Other Tim July 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I sem to recall this being the Perry Hall Town Fair. At some point it became the Perry Hall/ White Marsh Town Fair. Don't remember any complaints. Probably wouldn't be any complaints if it was held in Kingsville, either. Most people are upset simply because it is in Middle River. That is snobbery at its best.
alyssa July 14, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I attended Perry Hall High and someof these comments about the people of chaseb/middle river are very disturbing. Not everyone in this area are "bad" people. You need to just geg your panties out of the bunch they are in ....
John Doe July 14, 2012 at 02:40 PM
So if a President of something makes a decision we don't agree with, don't whine or complain? Let me go check out that healthcare blog...
Other Tim July 15, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Well, I braved the long drive and went to the fair. No rain, actually a pretty nice day. Lots of people, plenty of parking. (Lots of cops- were they expecting trouble?) Don't know for sure who was from Perry Hall or elsewhere, but no matter. Very few political booths, thank God. $3 for a 10oz. plastic cup of beer seemed a little high, but maybe MD license fees forced that. All in all, same as last year. Some booths from Perry Hall merchants, most from outside the area. One thing I cannot quite understand. I bought something at the silent auction, and charged it to my credit card card. The receipt I got showed the Perry Hall White Marsh Business Association as an address in Rosedale, MD. ??
J C Jackson July 15, 2012 at 01:20 PM
As a resident pf Perry Hall I don't think we should actually drop the name PerryHall/ WhiteMarsh Town Fair and say it is the Middle River Town Fair. A contest to come up with a name that would not be "stepping on the toes" of either community, but make Perry Hall/White Marsh patrons feel they is still part of a "home town" feel in the community.
Angie Halcomb July 16, 2012 at 05:30 PM
The Crossroad area was very nice but it is not Perry Hall or White Marsh for that matter. I cannot understand why it is so difficult to find an area in either of these locations. Towson and Parkville close streets for their fairs. All that needs to be done is contact the proper authorities.


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