LIMA — The Allen County Fair saw a 6.86 percent attendance decrease this year when compared to the 2017 fair.
The 2017 had a total attendance of 198,060 people and this year saw that total drop to 184,474, for a total attendance loss of 13,586 people.
“We would hope to see a steady increase every year,” said Bob Fricke, Allen County Fair general manager. “We know the weather affects us. That’s the biggest impact on our daily gate numbers.”
This year was a wet one for the Allen County Fair. Fricke said when looking at the total day-to-day numbers, each day showing a decrease in attendance coincides with rainy and wet days. If rain happens overnight, it does not typically affect the fair, but this year, much of the rain happened during peak times — after people got off work. When that happens, it significantly damages attendance, he said.
The first day of the fair this year, Aug. 17, saw a drop in attendance of 9.5 percent, from 18,571 people in 2017 to 16,799, and began as a rainy day with thick, dark clouds threatening to drop more rain all day, Fricke said. Aug. 18 was also another wet day, Fricke said, which explains the attendance drop of 14.66 percent for that day, from 36,508 in 2017 to 31,156 this year.
The weather Aug. 20 and 21 was so bad the harness racing planned for those two evenings had to be rescheduled to Aug. 24 and 25, Fricke said. The final day of the fair was so bad the rescheduled harness racing event in the grandstand was cancelled and there were concerns the grounds wouldn’t dry out enough for the BMX Stunt Show to be held.
“You can have the greatest schedule put together, but if Mother Nature is not going to cooperate it’s going to affect you,” Fricke said. “And that’s basically what happened to us this year. We had a fantastic lineup but we didn’t see the numbers.”
He said the attendance was down by a manageable number, Fricke said, adding that chances are if the averages for the past five years were examined together, the attendance of 2018 would still fall within those averages.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.