Weather dampens fair attendance

Trucks bearing carnival rides from last week’s county fair began pulling out from the Curry County Fairgrounds on Monday afternoon. Fair officials believe poor weather hampered the turnout at the fair this year. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The first week of school and a series of evening thunderstorms contributed to low attendance at this year’s Curry County Fair, officials said Monday.

“Thursday night is our Tejano night,” fair secretary Peggy Burns said. “Our Tejano singer, Ram Herrera, never even stepped on stage (because of the weather).”

Herrera was scheduled to start at 9 p.m. but the show was canceled due to heavy rain.

“Downpours also caused the midway to shut down Monday and Thursday nights,” Burns said.

Burns said the conflict with school also played a role in a drop of 2,200 in attendance during the week-long fair — from 30,000 in 2004 to 27,800 this year.

“Parents had already spent their money on back-to-school stuff,” Burns said. “They probably couldn’t afford the fair.

“This is the third year the schools have decided to start in the middle of the fair. Parents don’t want to bring their kids on a school night.”

But there were some bright spots at the annual event.

The biggest success was Saturday’s arenacross.

“It was sold out,” Burns said. “It was an excellent success.”

Another success: Bids in the annual livestock show totaled $288,400, according to fair officials — up almost $40,000 from 2004.

But Thursday’s wet weather proved a crushing blow overall.
Last year, the fair sold 5,148 tickets on Thursday. This year attendance was 3,600.

A horse show, barrel racing and team roping events were all canceled due to bad weather, Burns said.

All exhibit entries were low this year, she said.

The demolition derby event only had seven entries, though $2,000 was added to the purse.

“This event was sold out in the past,” Burns said. “I don’t know what happened this year.”

Curry County Fair board secretary Stan Jones said cooking and sewing entries being low is probably a sign of the times.

“Younger women in our society work,” Jones said. “Society has changed. Women don’t can anymore.”

The crop and garden entries were at an all-time low, officials reported. But that could have been weather-related, Jones said. “I think it was just too muddy for people to bring in their stuff.”

Burns declined to comment on any future changes, although she did say next year will have a new style of entertainment and hopefully plenty of sunshine.