Weather blamed for drop in fair attendance

Construction, confusion also factors in 6-percent decrease, organizers say.

Hot temperatures and heavy rain were to blame for the 6-percent drop in attendance at this year’s Montgomery County Fair, according to fair officials.

The six-day event, which started Aug. 27, attracted approximately 30,500 people, according to Betsy Koval, director of marketing for Concessions By Cox of Ohio. The Columbus-based company contracts with the Montgomery County Agricultural Society to provide food, beverages and entertainment for the fair.

“We also want more, but we’re still calling it a successful fair,” said John Friedline, president of the agricultural society. “Everybody that came seemed to have a good time.”

Last year’s attendance was approximately 32,300, which was an increase compared to 2012’s attendance of 25,650, according to Koval.

Temperatures remained in the 80s during the majority of this year’s six-day fair period, with rain occurring on at least four of the days.

“We had to shut down the fair the one night because of the rain,” Friedline said.

The heavy rains also forced the cancellation of the demolition derby, resulting in the loss of that crowd.

Construction on South Main Street may have also played a role in the drop of attendance, Friedline said.

Koval said the Aug. 28 opening of the new Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway may have also played a role in the attendance decrease. However, Friedline disagreed.

“I think it’s two different venues of people that we’re playing to. Horse racing (attendance and participation) was actually up a little bit (from last year) on Wednesday night,” Friedline said. “I really don’t think the racino helped us or hurt us either way.”

Last month, Friedline told this newspaper that he had hoped to see attendance reach approximately 80,000 because of what he called increased interest stemming from the possibility of the fairgrounds moving to Brookville.

The Montgomery County Fair has been held on South Main Street for more than 160 years andwould move to Brookville once the South Main Street site is sold.

Miller-Valentine Group, the potential developer, has a two-year purchase option for the current fairgrounds.

But even if the company exercises this option, the fair will be in Dayton next year.

Friedline also said last month that the fair usually attracts between 75,000 to 80,000 people each year, depending on the weather.

Friedline said the 2014 numbers do not include free tickets that were given to youth groups and exhibitors. Koval added that her attendance figure did not include those who were in 4-H competitions.

“Overall, we are pleased with our numbers and we’re looking forward to next year,” Koval said.