Once again, Fair Manager John Steffanic makes his annual proclamation, “Best Fair Ever!”. The honest truth is, it really was one of the better fairs in recent memory. Comments were overwhelmingly positive; citing the full commercial hall, big crowds for many of the entertainers and the excellent condition of the fairgrounds. Hundreds of people took advantage of the Golden Ticket for the carnival, offering unlimited rides every day of the fair for only $75 when bought in advance. It also helped that Wold Amusements, the carnival operator, brought 3 new rides this year. There were lots of smiles at this year’s fair.
Almost every category of statistics that the fair tracks saw an increase. Each day saw an increase in attendance for a week long increase of 4%. A little over 10,000 people came through the gates of the fair over five days. Interestingly, revenue for attendance was up since more people bought family and weekly passes. These passes save money for visitors, but generate more money for the fair because more people are attending.
A great fundraiser for the Chester and Quincy wrestling teams is paid parking for the fair. Revenues are split between the wrestlers and the fair. Almost 100 more cars paid for parking this year than last. Our community is very supportive of these athletes, happily paying for parking and many contributing more to their efforts. The fair and the schools are grateful for the support.
As mentioned, Serpilio Hall was filled to capacity with 38 spaces rented, compared with 29 last year. Due to several last minute cancellations, outdoor vendors were down from 17 to 13. There were two less food vendors than last year, but Plumas and Sierra Counties were hungry, driving sales up 7%. The top three food concessions are pretty consistent year after year; Munch-A-Bunch, which sells classic fair food like corn dogs & hamburgers is always far ahead of the others. Second in popularity is Thai Thai BBQ and third place goes to California Ice Cream Company. Most were close to, or ahead of the previous year’s sales.
Unfortunately, entries of exhibits continues to creep downward. Despite efforts to get more young people to enter things into the fair through school projects, every area saw a decline in entries. The good news is that more entries are being judged. That would be the difference between how many entries are received in July, and how many of those are actually judged during the fair. That numbers stands at around 11%, where many other fair are double or triple that number. “This is the true heart and soul of our fair,” says Steffanic, “without entries in every department, we lose a little more of who we are.” His goal is to get every resident of both counties to enter something at least once in their lives. Steffanic asks that everyone who currently enters things in the fair, encourage, nudge and even harass their friends and family to enter next year.
The planning for 2017 is already underway. The search is on for different entertainment, bigger entertainment, more experiences, more exhibits, more fun and, well, the “Best Fair Ever”.