While the final day of the Chautauqua County Fair was Sunday, the fairgrounds were still busy Monday. Crews worked to clean up fair rides and pack up vendors to leave the fairgrounds bare until next year.
Fair Director David Wilson said the fair was successful this year. While final fair numbers were unknown Monday, Wilson said attendance was "average" compared to other fairs in the past.
"I would say attendance was average compared to last year. Most of the years attendance is the same," Wilson said.
OBSERVER Photos by Samantha McDonnell
Top: Crews worked to take down the fair Monday after the 131st annual Chautauqua County Fair.
Mike Ferguson, director of promotions and marketing for the fair, said he was pleased with attendance numbers.
"Obviously ... Wednesday and Thursday the weather had a negative effect (on attendance) when we had the rain and the threat for storms," he said. "I think it was slightly better because we didn't have as many rainy days, which helped."
According to Wilson, county fairs try to draw people from within 50 miles, but with Dunkirk, that population includes many fish from Lake Erie.
"Talking about running a fair in today's world, it's a big business," Wilson said.
Those who visited the fair noticed new entertainment this year.
"We had a great lineup of entertainment at the grandstand, excellent entertainment at the Arthur R. Maytum Family Theater," Wilson said. "We had some new entertainment like the (Paul Bunyan) Lumberjack show."
New in the grandstand this year was Beatle Magic, the Texaco Country Showdown, off-road racing and a tractor pull. Ferguson said many attended Beatle Magic on Wednesday even though there was a threat of storms. However on Thursday, due to the rain, many did not attend the Texaco Country Showdown, but the Maximum Force Wrestling held at the family stage "was packed," Ferguson said.
Also returning this year, after a long hiatus, were fireworks held Sunday night. Wilson estimated between 1,000 and 1,500 people sat in the grandstand to watch.
"The fireworks went off and they were excellent fireworks. They were sponsored by 21 Brix Winery and a lot of people stuck around after the demolition derby to see them," Wilson said.
Ferguson echoed Wilson's message that the fireworks were crowd pleasing.
"We think the fireworks were good and we thank the sponsors," he said.
While the fair is over, the board is already looking forward to next summer. The board of directors have a meeting already planned for next week to discuss the outcome of this year's fair.
"We will assess the new shows that we had. We'll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly," Wilson said.
Ferguson talked about possibly bringing in new shows and grandstand features next year.
"I think that one of my jobs is to work with everybody to make sure we can look at options to see what is ahead of us for next year," he said. "Our goal is to be relevant to all the age groups."
Ferguson said the fair board of directors is looking into bringing back a concert to the fair. It has been more than a decade since the last concert. He spoke of possibly bringing a country or rock and roll act in upcoming years.
"The key is to get us those types of bands, we have to show that we have the attendance to attract advertisers and sponsors. I think what we're going to have to do is help them out with national advertisers. That is going to take the (financial) burden off some local advertisers."
Wilson said the fair directors will visit other local county fairs this summer, such as the Cattaraugus County, Erie County and Warren County, Pa., fairs to check out what events and shows are out there. Ferguson also said he would like to attract all county residents next year.
"This is Chautauqua County Fair, not just Dunkirk, Fredonia, Brocton. We're going to have to do things to draw their attention," Ferguson said. "To remain relevant and competitive, we will have to bring in bigger and better acts.
"We know what we got to do. I'm excited as I'm starting to plan next year," Ferguson said. "Every year you can expect bigger and better things. I think we're taking the right steps and people will see different changes in the next year or two."
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