By Carol McIntire
Temperatures were down and attendance was up at the 2018 Carroll County Fair.
Fair board officials reported total paid attendance of 17,324, which translates into gate receipts of $173,240.
The number of membership tickets sold also increased. Secretary Wendy Davis reported 535 memberships sold this year along with 252 exhibitor tickets. Both passes provided daily admittance to the fair. The membership allows the holder to vote at the annual election in October. Last year the two combined totaled 768.
Daily attendance figures were reported as follows: Tuesday, 1,474; Wednesday, 2,568; Thursday, 3,152; Friday, 3,430; Saturday, 3,190; and Sunday, 3,510.
“I believe the cooler weather was a factor in our increased attendance as well as the Eyes of Freedom, Lima Company Memorial and improvements to the fairgrounds,” said Fair Board President Mike Lozier.
He said the fair board was honored to host the Eyes of Freedom Memorial during the entire fair in the Horticulture Hall.
“It was heart-wrenching and eye-opening” Lozier said of the memorial. “The entrance of the memorial onto the grounds was something to see and something I believe people will remember for a long time.”
Several volunteers helped tear down the memorial displays Sunday afternoon and carefully pack each one into a trailer provided by R&L Carriers. Once the work was complete, Mike Strahle and Sean Flaharty, who travel everywhere with the memorial, presented the fair board with an Eyes of Freedom Flag signed by hundreds of visitors.
“From what I heard from people walking through, it was a really big hit at the fair. There were a lot of people who came to the Carroll County Fair who were happy we were there. At the end of the event we want something to leave behind to say thank you. It is our honor to leave this here. We hope it finds a place here,” said Strahle.
Musical entertainment returned to the fair Saturday after a long absence with the Jo Dee Mesinna concert.
“She really takes the cake,”Lozier said. “We had a situation where a woman needed immediate medical care and was removed from the crowd and taken to a nearby ambulance. The way Jo Dee handled the situation was a class act. She asked the crowd to say a prayer with her for the woman and then checked on her condition later in the concert and reported to the crowd. She also shared her own personal story and put those in the crowd on the same level as her. I am happy we were able to bring her to the Carroll County Fair.”
Lozier said he is in favor of booking another musical act for the 2019 fair.
“As we begin to plan for next year, I believe we should look for musical entertainment,” he said.
“I received a number of comments about the condition of the fairgrounds, the buildings and the flower beds,” he said. “People are beginning to notice the improvements we’ve been making at the facility and it is catching on. We have some other big plans in the works as well.”
The other big plan announced Friday during the large animal sale is a fundraising campaign to replace the metal barn with a new show complex, hopefully by the time the 2019 fair rolls around.
The fair closed Sunday with a large crowd for the combine and auto demolition derby.
“Those two are always a smash,” said Lozier. “We will get to work soon planning a bigger and better fair for 2019.”