Janesville28.5°

Poor economy boosts fair attendance

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Kayla Bunge
September 2, 2008
— Tough economic times didn’t keep more than 150,000 people away from the 159th Walworth County Fair, which ended Monday.

“(Attendance) was a little down from last year, but on the whole, we can’t complain, said fair spokeswoman Susan Pruessing. “We were worried this year because, economically, it’s been a tough year for folks. There are many, many things tugging at everyone’s purse strings.”


She said families increasingly are looking for affordable entertainment close to home.


Attendance totaled 155,555 people. Sunday was busiest with 36,929 people. Saturday was the next busiest with 32,455 people.


The 105th anniversary of Harley-Davidson, celebrated in roaring fashion on Milwaukee’s lakefront, likely drew thousands of people away from the fair, Pruessing said.


“If you look at our trends, every fifth year we struggle with about 10,000 (people) less than we’d really like,” she said.


Pruessing said not only does the fair compete for attendance but it also competes for big-name entertainment.


But “picture-perfect” weather, including sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s and lower 90s, made the fair an ultimate place for families seeking a daylong getaway, she said.


Pruessing said the “big hits” at this year’s fair reflected the importance of family for the fair.


Two new features that proved popular were:


-- Courtesy taxis for parents with young children, senior citizens and other people who had trouble walking throughout the fairgrounds.


-- A baby changing and nursing station in the park.


“We’re trying to be an intergenerational fair,” Pruessing said. “We try to address the needs of young families and the needs of our senior citizens.”



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