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Despite heat, Walworth County Fair turns out strong attendance numbers

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Elliot Hughes
Monday, September 7, 2015

ELKHORN—A later start to the school year in Elkhorn helped boost attendance numbers for the Walworth County Fair, an organizers said Monday.

For the second year in a row, the fair's overall attendance increased from the previous year. A total of 135,879 people entered the fairgrounds in Elkhorn during this year's six-day fair, said fair General Manager Larry Gaffey.

Last year, 133,369 people visited, topping the 130,685 who showed up in 2013. With records dating back to 1970, the high mark was set in 1999 with 194,057 attendees.

But attendance numbers probably took a hit as a result of temperatures consistently reaching well into the 80s and sometimes hitting 90, Gaffey said. It didn't rain at the fair this year, but Gaffey said it was repeatedly threatened in local forecasts, which might have deterred some people.

Nevertheless, Gaffey said visitors enjoyed their time on the grounds.

“I didn't see anybody get grumpy,” said Gaffey, a native Iowan who took the position of fair general manager in May. “Everybody's sweating, the fans are on full blast, but you wave at people and they wave back. There are some very nice people that come to the fair.”

Sunday, as usual, drew the largest crowd: 29,014. Still, that was down from 35,720 on 2014's second-to-last day. This year's Sunday lineup featured a sold-out performance by the rock group Cheap Trick, based out of Rockford, Illinois.

Gaffey said he was pleased with the 53,296 people that visited Wednesday through Friday. He attributed that to the Elkhorn Area School District not starting class until Sept. 8, while other districts, such as Janesville's, began Sept. 1.

“Our attendance numbers were pretty strong,” he said.

The Charlie Daniels Band's performance also helped Saturday's numbers become the best since 2010, Gaffey said, as 28,696 people showed up.

“The people here, I've never been to a fair where people love their fair as much as this one,” he said. “You can tell they love it.”



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