Despite the weather not fully cooperating last week, Adams County Fair Board Director Liz Lafferty believes this year’s fair was a big success.
“I think it was very successful considering our daily tsunami as I called it,” Lafferty said. “I kept thinking, ‘How much more can we take?’ But we still did well despite not having the ability to park on the grounds for a few days.”
Rain kept some patrons away during the week but Lafferty said the increased cost of entering the fair this year meant more money was made than the year before.
“We finished ahead money wise,” Lafferty said. “I think we were actually down in attendance but we increased the gate price by $2 this year so that’s why I think we ended up with more money over last year.”
The fair had to scramble to find a way to literally get people to the gate this year after heavy rains turned many of the parking lots on the fairgrounds to mud pits. Patrons had to be shuttled in from various locations in West Union but Lafferty said the response to the shuttles was very positive.
“People really loved them,” Lafferty said. “They thought it was really great to be able to park at the hospital or wherever, get on and get taken to the fair and not have to worry about parking at the fair. We’ve never needed [the shuttles] before but I think that might be a really good thing [for the future].
Attractions were a big draw to this year’s fair, according to Lafferty, as concerts and events at the race track were scheduled for every night of the fair.
“The dirt track was booked every night and the center ring was also booked every night,” Lafferty said. “You just have to have something going on in every area for everyone because not everyone likes the same thing.”
In addition to the events each night, more than double the rides from last year were at the fair this year.
“We had 13 rides this year,” Lafferty said. “We haven’t had 13 rides in how many years? Many. Last year I think we only had six.”
Despite the weather, only a handful of events had to be moved or cancelled.
“We moved the cheerleading competition to Manchester High School on Monday which was so packed we could hardly fit even one more person in that gym,” Lafferty said. “There was also [the band] Finding Favour who we thought were going to be a huge concert and we begged them to stay but they used their rain option. Had we had perfect weather who knows what records we could’ve brokne?”
Numerous renovations and improvements to many of the buildings at the fairgrounds were made this past year and Lafferty said they all held up very nicely, however there’s still more work to be done to other buildings at the fairgrounds.
“The Floral Hall was completely redesigned inside and painted and a huge part of the grandstand was repaired and will be completely redone by next year,” Lafferty said. “The Merchants Hall was painted, there’s an entire new end on the horse barn and the paging booth returned and was very popular. People really loved that this year.”
In addition to the grandstands, a few of the halls are still in need of repainting according to Lafferty, including the chicken barn, the rabbit barn and the maintenance building. A new roof is planned for the hog barn as well.
Animal shows were packed every night in the show arena with many people unable to find a seat. Lafferty described this year’s livestock shows at “huge.”
“We’ve tried to incorporate a peewee show from ages three to eight with peewee swine classes and we added goats this year on Wednesday and Thursday morning and you talk about packing the house. There were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles – it was packed. If we can get them in there that early in the morning and then they stay to me it was a total success.”
While all is calm at the fair for the moment, the Fair Board plans to begin looking at attractions for the 2016 fair as early as September and the board plans to go through all the suggestions left in suggestion boxes all around the fairgrounds during their next meeting on Aug. 6.