Rainy Weekend Brings Small Drop to KY. State Fair

24 Sep

A stroll along the animal exhibits at the Kentucky State Fair, Louisville.

Oppressive heat that had plagued the Louisville area dissipated in time for the Aug. 19-29 Kentucky State Fair, but a rainy Saturday put the event down 19,000 customers for the day, which turned out to be the approximate number the fair was down over last year’s 621,795.

When all was said and done, this year’s attendance came in at 602,897.
“Heat wasn’t an issue,” said GM Harold Workman. “The weather broke about the time the fair started. We had very nice weather, which was in the high 80s and low 90s, compared to the high 90s and low 100s we had been having.”

North American Midway Entertainment placed 54 rides on the midway, according to Jeff Blomsness, president of NAME’s All-Star Amusement unit.

That was more rides than last year, because the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom amusement park adjacent to the Kentucky Exposition Center that the carnival also sold tickets to closed.

“The contract is for 40 with the amusement park and 50 if it’s not there,” Blomsness said. “So we added the rides and subtracted the park, which is three or four roller coasters and a big array of rides.”

Kroger sold presale tickets for the carnival and those figures were not in yet, Blomsness said, so he did not know how the final numbers would shake out, although without the park, it would not be an apples to apples comparison with last year’s results.

Not having Kentucky Kingdom open drove more fairgoers to the midway, Blomsness said, which did not create any problems.

“Taking the park out of the factor, we did really well,” Blomsness said. “Whenever you have too many people, it’s a good problem.”

Rides that did well included the Fireball, the spinning coaster and the giant wheel, Blomsness said.

Pay-one-price carnival wristbands were available on six weekdays for $24, which covered from open to close, Workman said. Children ages 3 to 12 could buy $12 wristbands on two days as well, he added.

The fair’s 16,000-seat Freedom Hall hosted four paid concerts. The line-up, attendance and ticket prices were: Sugarland with Little Big Town/10,124/$48 and $33; comedian Jeff Dunham/8,449/$48 and $38; Tim McGraw with Montgomery Gentry/6,832/$74 and $54; and Rascal Flatts with Kellie Pickler/7,654/$69 and $48.

Those ticket prices included gate admission, which cost $8 for adults and $4 for ages 3-12 and senior citizens 55 and older.

The overall fair budget is $10 million, Workman said, while for marketing, the budget is $500,000, said Edward Browne, the fair’s director of public relations and media.

Next year’s fair dates will be Aug. 18-28. –  Mary Wade Burnside

Interviewed for this article: Harold Workman and Edward Browne, (502) 367-5000; Jeff Blomsness, (601) 898-5533.

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