Sunday, August 01, 1999

Heat withers county fairs


Attendance not as expected

BY DAVID ECK
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Cooler temperatures in the forecast will be a relief for our overheated region, but they will have come too late for some area county fairs, which languished during the heat wave.

        Hardest hit was the Butler County Fair, as a string of 90-degree days pushed attendance down about 14,000 from last year's figures.

        “I've had days where it's been ungodly hot,” said Dan Martin, fair manager.“It's the worst I've seen (for a prolonged period) since I've been fair manager.”

        Preble County's fair opened this weekend; Hamilton County's starts Wednesday and temperatures are expected to be down a little.

        The Butler fair's lower revenue will affect the fair board, but officials say the possibility for poor conditions is factored in ahead of time.

        “It's not good sense to come out in this kind of heat,” Mr. Martin said. “We've had some people that have gotten overheated. We haven't had any major things happen.”

        As for the animals: “(They) are handling it better than the people are because they are more used to it than adults are,” Mr. Martin said.

        More than 44,000 people attended the Warren County Fair from July 19-24, but that was significantly less than the 55,000 fair leaders were expecting. They were counting on a new leopard show, a new rodeo and better advertising to boost attendance. They just didn't count on the heat.

        “So much of it has to do with the weather,” said Ed Wade, president of the Warren County Agricultural Society. “We tried to promote our fair a little more. We were really looking for an increase this year. We didn't get (the) increase we wanted.”

        There were no serious heat-related illnesses at the fair, Mr. Wade said.

        In addition to the 44,000 in paid attendance, the fair sold about 2,500 weekly passes.

        Entries were up, with more than 1,800 animals and other exhibits on display, Mr. Wade said.

        Though many of the larger farms in Warren County are being lost to development, animal entries are increasing as families are settling 3-5 acre tracts and bringing in small animals such as turkeys, chickens and rabbits.

        At the Clermont County Fair, which closed Saturday the heat didn't keep crowds away, and officials are confident they will have the 80,000 visitors they were projecting.

        “It has bothered us some, but not to a great degree,” said Hal Herron, executive director of the fair board. “We've had a really good fair. We've had excellent crowds.”

        One of the oldest fairs in the region, the Clermont event celebrated its 150th anniversary this year and made the most of it.

        “We had a big grand opening ... with a parade,” Mr. Herron said. “We've had a baby show. We brought back the Bob Braun original 50-50 Club.”

        But, like all the fairs, 4H kids and their projects stole the show. And they, too, are bringing in smaller animals as the number of steers is down, but the lambs are way up at the Clermont fair.

        “Probably the highlight of the fair would be the many, many projects that the junior fair and 4H kids had,” Mr. Herron said. “It's hard to figure, but as the county becomes more urban, kids still want to be part of the fair.”


        UP NEXT

        • The Preble County Fair started Saturday at the fairgrounds on Ohio 122 in Eaton.

        On Sunday and Monday harness racing will be featured. Other highlights: demolition derbies, truck and tractor pulling contests and bull riding.

        Fair hours are 7 a.m.-11 p.m. For more information call (937) 456-3748.

       



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