Organizers report solid turnout at Rock County 4-H Fair
JANESVILLE--A combination of good acts and good weather meant a solid turnout at this year's Rock County 4-H Fair, organizers said.
Attendance numbers for Tuesday through Saturday came to 69,376. Sunday's numbers weren't available before the newspaper's deadline.
Fair week started off with a sweltering day Tuesday that might have contributed to attendance, which was 9,817. According to Gazette attendance records, which date back to 1987, the average for a Tuesday is 10,995.
“I think people looked at that and said to themselves, 'When am I going to bring the kids?' When the weatherman says its going to be 15 degrees cooler tomorrow, people are going to wait,” said John Quinn, president of the fair board.
On Wednesday, the temperature did drop significantly, and attendance went up to 16,935.
Wednesday's attendance beat the 27-year average of 16,463. Record attendance for a Wednesday was 24,280 in 1998.
Performances by the Swon Brothers and Danielle Bradbery helped boost attendance.
On Thursday, a performance by Scotty McCreery appeared at the grandstand and the day's attendance totaled 17,212. That beat a 27-year average of 16,753. Record attendance for Thursday was 24,970 in 2003.
On Sunday, grandstand entertainment featured horse pulling in the morning and a performance by Milton's Zac Matthews, who recently won the best new male voice in the Texaco Country Showdown.
This year, two of the five nights of grandstand entertainment were free. The remaining concerts required an additional $10 or $15 ticket.
In the recent past, all nights were free with the gate fee.
“There were a few who complained that the grandstand entertainment has always been free,” Quinn said.
He explained that entertainers have become increasingly expensive, and selling tickets to shows helps cover some of those costs.
“A lot of people do realize that they're going to pay $50 or $60 for nose-bleed seats at other concerts,” Quinn said.
Fairgoers told Quinn they were pleased with the variety of free entertainment on the grounds, such as magicians, the Kenya Safari Acrobats, the SWAT demonstration from the Rock County Sheriff's Office and music from bands such as Rainbow Bridge, Soggy Prairie Boys and the UW Marching Band.
Quinn hoped that fair attendees recognized the work of the fair's primary participants — 4-H and FFA members who were competing in dozens of categories, including painting, photography, woodworking and, of course, showing animals.
“That's the highlight of the fair. That's what the fair started as,” Quinn said. “If you think about the number of hours that the kids put into these projects, it's really impressive.”