Conflicts with school and a rainy Thursday night resulted in the lowest Curry County fair attendance since 2001, officials said Monday.
Fair board president Buddy Vaughan said 26,870 people passed through fair gates last week, a 3 percent decline from a year ago and almost 14 percent fewer than in 2002.
“We really had big (attendance) nights on Friday and Saturday — bigger than normal — so I really think a lot of it had to do with the kids were in school on Wednesday and Thursday and they waited until Friday and Saturday to come out,” Vaughan said.
“There hasn’t been school (conflicting with the fair) in quite a few years.”
Vaughan said fair officials were concerned about scheduling opposite the first week of school, but options always clash with other schedules, including those of fair vendors. He said the fair board will meet in September and scheduling for 2005 will be on the agenda.
Weather also may have played a role in the attendance. Heavy rains fell about 9:45 p.m. on Thursday and several evenings were threatened by storms.
Despite the dropoff in attendance, Vaughan said he was pleased with this year’s turnout, which was 6,137 more than in 2001.
“The focus is having something for everybody in the community,” he said. “I think years ago the fair started so livestock exhibitors and agriculture people could go in and see who had the best vegetables and animals. Really in the last three years we have focused on trying to have something for everybody.”
He said one key to increasing fair attendance next year will be to attract a bigger crowd from Cannon Air Force Base.
“They don’t know what’s going on … or maybe we’re not doing a good enough job explaining the fair to them,” Vaughan said.
Fair records show this was the 84th year for the annual event. Vaughan said attendance records have only been kept the past six or seven years.
2004 Fair attendance
2004 total: 26,870
2003 total: 27,785
2002 total: 30,612
2001 total: 20,733
Source: Curry County Fair