County fair earnings explode expectations
The Jefferson County Fair and Rodeo usually breaks even or nets between $5,000 and $10,000. This year's fair soared past all previous records, posting earnings between $75,000 and $80,000.
No one could be happier than Fairgrounds Coordinator Brian Crow when he saw the huge opening day crowds.
"Almost ecstatic joy to see all these people down here having fun," said Crow. "Kids have ice cream spilled on their shirt and their mouths blue with cotton candy, families laughing and having fun, the screams from the midway, the hogs snorting and the cows mooing. It was so cathartic for me."
The year and a half pandemic enforced absence dampened Crow's mood. He and apparently everybody else were ready for some fun.
— Attendance was up 70% with about 30,000 people
— Food revenue was up 57%
— Rodeo revenue increased by 33%
— Carnival revenue more than doubled, up 115%
The new midway vendor, Paul Mauer Shows, brought in five more rides, 20 rides instead of the usual 15.
Crow says Mauer spent the pandemic cleaning the rides and replacing the incandescent bulbs with LEDs. "It was like a light show after dark," said Crow. "Spectacular!"
Jefferson County benefited from holding this season's first fair in the tri-county area. Jackson County in southern Oregon held its fair a week prior and had such large crowds some carts ran out of food.
Crow warned his vendors to be ready.
The fair also happened before the governor's mask mandate. Crow says after the mask rules went into effect, other fairs had significantly reduced attendance.
Parking has always been an issue for the Jefferson County fair. This year, it was worse.
"We tried to put 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound bag," said Crow.
Drone photos showed no available parking within a mile of the fairgrounds.
Crow says the board will strategize options like parking on ballfields and farm fields.
Upgrades are in the works to make future fairs even better.
The fair board will apply for grants to improve Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility with new restrooms, paths and ramps.
The fair board also dreams of a new outdoor arena with a grandstand to allow bigger rodeos and more barrel racing events.
And the fair board breaks ground Wednesday, Sept. 15, on its new show barn.
At 14,000 square feet, it will be the largest building constructed on the fairgrounds in 70 years.
Community sponsors collectively donated $375,000 to put up the steel structure. The groundbreaking takes place at 9 a.m. on the southeast field.
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