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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

64th annual county fair an all-around success

Pasco County Fair officials credit great weather and popular attractions with boosting this year's attendance to more than 54,300.
By GEOFF FOX The Tampa Tribune Published: March 2, 2011
DADE CITY - More than 54,300 people attended the 64th annual Pasco County Fair last week, a marked increase over last year, when about 45,000 people hit the midway, fair officials said.
Clear skies and spring temperatures, popular events such as the Pasco County Fair Championship Rodeo and Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby, and shows throughout the week by Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop, the sassy puppet made famous by Lewis' mother, Shari Lewis, all helped boost this year's attendance, fair Director Tracy Thompson said.
He said the fair also increased its advertising budget this year, especially in Polk County.
"We were very pleased," Thompson said. "The weather cooperated to a T. We were up the whole week, attendance-wise and money-wise, across the board. We feel like more people came out because of the perfect weather. Last year, it was cold throughout the week, but the weekend was gorgeous, so most people came on the weekend."
Dicky Brown, the fair's agricultural chairman, also reported large increases in steer, hog and plant sales.
This year's total beef sales were about $219,000, a roughly $50,000 increase over last year; swine sales were up about $30,000 to $184,000; while total plant sales were about $13,000, a roughly $2,000 increase, Brown said.
"That's just great community support," said Brown, also vice president of the Pasco County Fair Association. "Our numbers even went up as far as entries. We had to turn kids away in the swine programs because we didn't have enough pens. I know we took a hit (on sales) last year with the economy.
"This could be an indicator that the economy is starting to turn around a little bit. Some of our big buyers were a little more free with their money this year," Brown said.
Thompson, who procures the fair's entertainment, also credited the appearance of Lewis and Lamb Chop, grand marshals of the fair's annual parade, for boosting media coverage. He said Friday night's rodeo and Sunday's demolition derby also drew throngs.
"People really like the crash 'em up-type stuff," he said.
People already are asking Thompson what next year's theme will be.
"Each year, we're looking for something new and exciting," he said. "People want to know about next year's theme because they're planning for booths and commercial exhibits. We're still in the planning stages. We all have to take a big breath and rest a few days. Probably in May, we'll really concentrate on next year's theme and planning out the fair.
"Some time in the next month, we'll start discussing what needs to be tweaked for next year."

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