Fair a success, though numbers down

Cliff Phol (left) and Paul Fay work on setting up the Ferris wheel in Bass Park Tuesday, July 27, 2010 in preparation for the upcoming Bangor State Fair.  The 161st edition of the fair opens Friday afternoon, July 30, running through Sunday, August 8.  (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
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Cliff Phol (left) and Paul Fay work on setting up the Ferris wheel in Bass Park Tuesday, July 27, 2010 in preparation for the upcoming Bangor State Fair. The 161st edition of the fair opens Friday afternoon, July 30, running through Sunday, August 8. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Posted Aug. 09, 2010, at 9:14 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The cleanup will continue over the next few days, but organizers of the Bangor State Fair said Monday that although numbers didn’t quite meet expectations, the 10-day event was a success.

Bass Park Director Mike Dyer said this year’s paid attendance of 64,085 is an 8 percent decrease over the 2009 attendance. Still, it was the second-best turnout in 10 years.

“The weather was great. It was relatively incident-free. It seems like people had a good time,” Dyer said Monday.

It was the second consecutive year that the state fair, which just completed its 161st year, has instituted a pay-one-price model. The $10 admission fee included admittance to any and all entertainment offerings and unlimited midway rides.

In 2009, paid attendance topped 71,500, a huge increase over the rain-soaked 2008 fair, which saw only 42,009 come through the gates.

The dollars are still being counted, Dyer said, but he predicted a net profit of about $85,000, slightly down from last year’s $103,000. Any profit is good, though, he said. In 2008, the fair lost money.

One of the big changes for the 2010 fair was the smoking policy. To accommodate smokers and to heed concerns of nonsmokers, organizers set up smoking kiosks away from the midway.

“The smoking changes really went well. I thought that could have been an ignition point, but smokers were very cooperative,” Dyer said. “And everyone else was appreciative of the change.”

As expected, the best days for attendance were on the weekends. The fair struggled from Monday, Aug. 2, through Thursday, Aug. 5, the same day of the Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series event featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band.

“Thursday was the slowest day. I’m sure the concert had some impact, but the weather didn’t help that day,” Dyer said. “The hardest thing is maintaining momentum for 10 days, but we want to give people plenty of opportunities to visit us.”

Dyer said this year featured some new events that were a hit, such as David “The Bullet” Smith Jr., better known as the Human Cannonball, and the wildly popular Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree Reunion.

Come next year, the lineup is expected to change once again.

“The racing ducks are very popular, and we’ve had them two years in a row, but we probably won’t bring them back,” Dyer said. “Tradition is a big part of fairs, but you have to keep it fresh.”

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