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Fair attendance up big this summer

Free Until 3 p.m. promotion a hit, officials say.

The Clark County Fair saw an estimated 87,000 attendees this year, a 22-percent increase over last year, thanks to a new promotion, according to fair officials.

The junior fair livestock sale also saw a record $1.05 million in sales, according to Allan Hess, executive director of the Clark County Agricultural Society.

“It was a very good fair,” Hess said.

The paid attendance increased 5.25 percent this year overall. This year’s fair saw 75,369 paid admissions, up from 71,609 in 2013.

With numbers from the “Free Until 3” promotion held on Monday and Friday last week included, the estimated attendance — acquired via car counts and ratio of ride wristbands sold — increased to approximately 87,400 total attendees, Hess said.

The attendance was the best since the fair saw 94,000 attendees in 2010.

The “Free Until 3” promotion replaced “Family Fun Day,” when ride costs were factored in to all admission costs. The Fund Day event, during which everyone got in for $10 with rides included, lessened the price for those that were riding, but forced those who were not to pay a higher admission charge.

The Clark County Fair Board will likely discuss continuing the “Free Until 3” promotion — designed to give families an opportunity to attend the fair at a reasonable price — next year.

“We feel that that was what we were trying to do, and it seemed to work,” Hess said.

Nice weather played a key role in the increased attendance also, Hess said.

“It’s probably 95 percent of what generates strong attendance,” he said.

The approximately $1.05 million taken in by the Jr. Fair livestock sale took in is up from $920,907 last year, Hess said.

“It’s a record-breaker by a pretty good chunk,” Hess said. “It’s amazes me every year. I can’t recall a year where there wasn’t an increase of some sort.”

The Clark County Fairgrounds also recently received approximately $180,000 in upgrades to fairground campsites to reduce the risk of rapidly spreading fire. Seventy-two new campsites were added, while 90 others were updated or refurbished, increasing the overall number of campsites to approximately 500.

Some exhibitors with campers were forced to move campsites near barns due to the changes, but there were no problems during the fair, Hess said.

“They’ve been very, very positive about what was done,” Hess said. “It worked well. Everyone seemed to be satisfied. Obviously, any change creates some concerns, but I think it worked well.”

The fairgrounds had several days where there were so many attendees, there weren’t any parking spots available. The board has discussed possibly using space at the old gravel pit for additional parking, Hess said.

“That’s something that may happen in the future,” Hess said.

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