HURON — Opening days that were hot and humid kept people from taking in the State Fair, but they came out in the evenings and Sunday’s attendance probably broke records.
“I can tell that just by looking at it, and just by some of the other sales on the grounds, that we had to have had a record Sunday,” State Fair Manager Jerome Hertel said Tuesday.
A day after the fair wrapped up for another year, he was beginning the process of analyzing how things went. Problems were limited to primarily parking woes and a couple of power outages affecting only two areas of the grounds.
Attendance figures won’t be known for awhile, but Hertel measures success in many ways.
“It’s how many people are participating in the livestock programs, how many kids do we have in 4-H, how many vendors we have on the grounds,” he said. “I think that’s kind of what determines how successful the fair is.”
Other than uncomfortable daytime conditions early on in the fair, there were no weather-related problems. A slight threat of rain on Saturday evaporated.
“I’d rather have the heat than three days of rain,” Hertel said. “The heat definitely affected us in the early part of the week on Thursday and Friday. I think people did hesitate a little to come out in the morning, but we did get good crowds in the evening.”
But until the overall numbers become available, he doesn’t know if good evening attendance and a busy Sunday are enough to overcome the slower days.
“Monday was pretty strong, too,” Hertel said. Often, fair visitors head for home by early afternoon on Labor Day, but many were still enjoying the fair into the evening hours.
More than 400 vendors sold their wares this year, and Hertel believes the livestock numbers were up.
State Fair commissioners will need to find ways to expand space for animals, but for now Hertel has no specific answers.
“The barns are full and if we want to continue to expand and have more people here, we have to look at different alternatives for housing some of these animals during the fair,” he said.
“We’re using every piece of ground we have out here for livestock or buildings or vendors or camping,” he said.
When tens of thousands of people converge at one place, there are always going to be parking issues. The State Fair offers many livestock-related activities, so many are coming into town with big rigs.
“That’s where some of the problems came in, trying to fit all those trailers in here,” Hertel said.
The space problems have been eased somewhat now that the fair leases large off-grounds places along Ninth Street Southwest a few blocks away.
On-grounds congestion is being eased as well by prohibiting people from bringing their personal golf carts to the State Fair.
“If you wanted a golf cart you had to rent a golf cart from a vendor out here,” Hertel said of the change this year.
But there was also increase in the number of courtesy golf carts at the gates, and the trams provided transportation around the fairgrounds.
Rented golf carts were restricted from being driven near heavy pedestrian areas near the Expo Building and Women’s Building, as well as in the main food court area.
“We did not allow them in those areas,” Hertel said. “Next year we’ll probably expand those areas to include some more of those high traffic, congested areas where we have a lot of foot traffic.”
Two-hour power outages occurred in one of the campgrounds and in the northeast corner of the fairgrounds due to overheating. NorthWestern Energy evenly distributes the loading coming onto the fairgrounds from three different directions.
“If anything did go down, if we had a major problem, at the most there would only be a third of the fairgrounds that would be without power,” he said.
For the complete article see the 09-04-2013 issue.
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