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No Strates Shows carnival train arrival at this year's York State Fair, organizers say

The midway equipment will arrive by truck this year, instead of by the 61-car rail train many fairgoers have become accustomed to over the years.
Credit: FOX43
York State Fair midway shown in a 2018 file photo.

YORK, Pa. — The annual arrival of the James E. Strates Shows train for York Fair has been a highly anticipated event for generations, but this year, it won't be happening, the York State Fair announced in a press release.

While there will still be plenty of rides and attractions on the midway provided by Strates Shows at the York State Fair, which will be held from July 23 through August 1, this year the equipment will be coming by truck, not by the 61-car train many fairgoers are accustomed to.

It's the latest of many annual traditions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the York State Fair said.

"Over the decades, the logistics involved in moving Strates Shows' employees and equipment has developed into a precise science," the York State Fair said in its press release. "By the time approval was received giving Fairs the green-light to operate, it was too late to coordinate train scheduling and routing.

"Although the fan-favorite 61 rail car carnival train will not be arriving at the 2021 York State Fair, fairgoers can still look forward to Strates Shows’ wide array of rides and attractions."

The exclusive relationship between the York State Fair and the Strates Shows is being renewed this year for the first time since 1979. Despite the changed method of transportation, Strates Shows is committed to providing a quality midway of rides, games, and food.

The Strates Shows is a 98-year-old family-owned business with headquarters in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 1923 by Greek immigrant James E. Strates at the Southern Tier Shows in Elmira, New York, the Strates Shows is considered one of America’s premiere providers of carnival midways. 

After the death of James E. Strates in 1959, his only son, E. James Strates took over as manager of the company and is still actively involved in its operation. 

Now in its ninth decade, the Strates Shows are led by the third generation of Strates family members including Susan, Jimmy, Sibyl, Jay, and John. 

Nick Strates, who officially joined the show full-time during the 2015 season, is the fourth generation of the Strates family to continue the tradition. 

Over the decades, the Strates Shows has brought many innovations to the carnival industry, including cooperative promotions, a centralized ticket system, advanced ticket sales, and the FunCard electronic ticketing system that utilizes bar codes to control access to carnival rides on the midway. 

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