Flat fee covers all at fair

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted July 26, 2010, at 9:10 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Hoping to build on a successful 2009, Bangor State Fair organizers are sticking with the pay-one-price model when the 161st fair opens this Friday.

For $10, fair-goers can attend all the events and shows and have unlimited use of all rides. The fair runs from Friday, July 30, through Sunday, Aug. 8.

“It was a no-brainer to keep the $10 fare going,” said Mike Dyer, director of Bass Park, the fair’s home.

After the 2008 fair, which featured several days of rain and resulted in revenue losses, organizers looked for a way to jump-start interest. They came up with the idea of a flat fee, something that hadn’t been used since 1993. In previous years, patrons paid $3 to $7, depending on age, but that didn’t include rides.

The change worked. Attendance increased from 42,009 in 2008 to more than 71,000 last year. Net revenue for the 2009 fair was $97,273, a stark contrast from an overall loss of $2,665 in 2008.

“We believe there is still room for growth,” Dyer said. “If we have a good string of days weather-wise, we could do real well.”

E.J. Dean of Fiesta Shows, the New Hampshire company that has been the fair’s midway provider since 1994, agreed that the $10 fare was successful and he’s glad to see it continue.

“Bangor is one of the largest events we do throughout New England,” Dean said during a break from setup on Monday. “As we continue to look at the economy, I think people see $10 as a real value.”

Dyer said the fair will look largely the same way it has for years, but there will be a few changes. One of the most visible will be smoking kiosks set up off the midway to keep smokers away from the food area.

“That was one of the biggest complaints last year,” he said.

The fair also will take advantage of using the nearby auditorium for events such as the bike stunt show and laser tag.

Other changes include adding new rides (Zero Gravity, Starship Exodus, Arctic Blast) and new events, such as the Human Cannonball, which Dyer predicts will be a big hit.

“We try to look at it like retail,” he said. “The anchors are always there, but we want to change things from year to year and expand when we can.”

Dean said adjustments are the key to keeping customers satisfied and coming back.

For information on the fair, visit www.bangorstatefair.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/07/26/news/bangor/flat-fee-covers-all-at-fair/ printed on July 24, 2014