BANGOR, Maine — After barely breaking even in 2007 and actually losing money in 2008, the Bangor State Fair is back in the black in a big way.
Bass Park director Mike Dyer briefed members of the City Council’s business and economic development committee this week on some encouraging final attendance and revenue numbers from the annual fair. Paid attendance, including pre-sales and promotions, reached 71,560 this year, up from 42,009 during a rain-soaked 2008 fair. It was the highest attendance in 10 years.
Even more impressive, though, was this year’s net revenue of $97,273, a stark contrast from an overall loss of $2,665 last year.
“Everything really fell into place,” Dyer said. “I think the $10 admission price really came at the right time.”
For the first time since 1993, fair organizers instituted a pay-one-price model, which Dyer said seemed to strike a chord. In previous years, patrons would pay between $3 and $7, depending on age, but that wouldn’t include rides. This year’s price of $10 included all rides.
“To bring in [nearly] $100,000 in an off year economically is fantastic,” Councilor David Nealley said.
“Ten or 11 months ago I said we needed to change the way we handled our fair. I hope we did that and maybe we can do even more,” added Councilor Rick Bronson.
Dyer agreed that there was some room for improvement, even if the fair was a success. He said the loss of the popular demolition derby events remains a complaint among some, and he said smoking on the midway remains a concern for many fair-goers.
Bangor contracts with Fiesta Shows, a New Hampshire-based company, to put on the state fair each year. It cost the city $472,575 to put on the nine-day fair this year, including payroll costs, entertainment fees, advertising and promotion, and other infrastructure costs. The fair generated $569,848 in revenue, mostly through gate admissions and through ride commissions.
Dyer said the city likely will decide early next year to keep the pay-one-price model, but as far as he’s concerned, it should continue.