Fair president: ’12 attendance up

Published 12:01 pm Sunday, August 12, 2012

People pull up a seat at Herb & Mural's Friday night for a snack or meal at the Mower County Fair.

Despite a few periodic showers, pleasant weather spurred a successful year for the Mower County Fair.

“Everyone has a smile on their face and a bag of mini doughnuts in their hand,” said Fair Board President Neal Anderson Saturday.

The Mower County Fair ends Sunday.

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Despite some heavy rains and an unusable grandstand, fair board members like Anderson were calling the week a success.

“We’re up slightly in attendance over last year,” he said.

When it comes to fair attendance, Anderson said weather is often key. For the most part, Mother Nature cooperated over fair week, with the high 80s and low 90s early in the week giving way to highs mostly in the 70s and low 80s.

“Now it’s fair weather,” Anderson said Saturday when highs peaked around 75.

Brief, but heavy rain showers dampened things a bit Wednesday and Thursday, and Anderson said it affected the crowds both nights, especially in the grandstand. Some people, he admitted, likely checked the radar and opted to stay home: “It kind of dampens your fair spirit,” he said of the rain.

But Friday made up for much of the loss, and attendance hit about 50,00 by Friday, according Anderson. Average attendance is about 80,000.

“Friday was a huge day,” he said.

Anderson said attendance was also positive in the animal and 4-H buildings. Saturday’s annual 4-H Ribbon Auction earned a record of about $64,000, according to Anderson.

“There is so much support in our 4-H program,” he said.


Temporary bleachers worked well, but not perfect

A structural engineer deemed the fair’s grandstand unsafe and unusable about a month before the fair, but events continued as planned thanks to temporary bleachers and barriers, which cost the county and fair board about $10,000.

“It’s worked very good,” Anderson said, but admitted, “it’s not perfect.”

Anderson said there were a few minor issues, one being sight-lines. Visibility was poor in some of the lower seats because they were close to ground level and looking past barriers. If temporary bleachers are used again for the grandstand, Anderson said they’d probably have to be elevated.

But Anderson was pleased with the events, and noted the tractor pull was one of the largest ever in terms of participants and lasted until 11 p.m. Thursday.

The county board and fair officials plan to discuss the long-term solution for the aging, structurally deficient grandstand later this year.