BANGOR — Attendance this year is up at the Bangor State Fair, but the gates are closing down earlier than some people would like.
Though the midway remains open until 11:30 p.m. — and on some nights as late as midnight — the gates to the fair have been closed for admittance around 9:30 p.m. since the fair opened last Friday. This has led to some complaints from potential fair-goers who have been turned away, particularly Tuesday night.
Bass Park director Michael Dyer said Wednesday that closing the gates “an hour and a half to two hours” before the midway shuts down has been standard operating policy at the fair for several years. He said this is done to make sure that all who get into the fair get the chance to actually spend some time and enjoy themselves, rather than come in 15 minutes before the gates close and complain about not getting to go on any rides. He said the fair’s stance on this policy is solid.
“Once our outside gates are closed,” Dyer said, “they are closed.”
Some people complained Tuesday night about not being allowed in after 9:30, even though they just wanted to play bingo. Others speculated that the gates were being closed because of larger than expected crowds.
Dyer said that in the interest of fairness, no differentiations could be made to allow people in who were interested only in attending certain activities. As for the crowds, he said they don’t play a role in when the gates close to the public, but are a factor in how late the midway stays open. He said fair organizers confer with the carnival people, police and fire on how many people are on the midway and in lines for rides and make their decision on whether or not these people have had a chance to enjoy as many of the attractions as possible at least once.
Dyer said overall attendance is up almost 25 percent this year, and if the trend continues, the overall attendance record of nearly 65,000 may be broken. The total attendance Tuesday, a wristband day, on which fair-goers could pay an additional price on top of admission to go on all the rides they want, was more than 10,300.
Dyer said that if people want to enjoy the fair, avoid the crowds and avoid getting shut out for any reason, they may want to come earlier in the day, especially on the two remaining wristband days, Thursday and Sunday.
“If they want to avoid the crowds, ” Dyer said, “they may have to trade comfort … and come earlier in the afternoon. There are more people on the grounds at night.”