While it was surprising to hear the Douglas County Fair will have one less day of fun this August, the decision to shorten the run is a good one.
Fairgrounds Manager Harold Phillips deserves credit for looking ahead. He didn’t wait for decline or dissatisfaction with the fair, but he recognized an opportunity.
If Douglas County follows the trends of other county fairs that have eliminated a day or two, revenues and attendance may hold steady. That means a successful fair would come at a lower cost.
Maximizing the revenue from the fair is important because the fairgrounds must be self-supporting. As the biggest event to take place all year at the fairgrounds, the fair must turn a profit so the fairgrounds can balance its budget.
Cutting out one weekday at the fair is welcome news to the many local organizations that have found it challenging to staff their booths with volunteers from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for five straight days, sometimes during August heat waves.
If those groups can make the same amount of money to fund their activities, they won’t be disappointed. They might be busier, however.
If attendance is to remain steady, it follows that we could see longer lines to board the free shuttle buses, purchase tickets at the main gate, order food and climb aboard the carnival rides. Buying advance tickets may be a better idea than ever before.
Douglas County 4-H Program Coordinator Teresa Middleton wisely points out the shorter fair run is an advantage for the animals that are exhibited at the fair.
Being cooped up for five days has never compared to the wide open pastures they’re used to, no matter how fond they may become of being washed, brushed and pampered by their owners: 4-H and FFA members competing for blue ribbons.
Anyone who’s visited the baked goods or land products exhibits has noticed how much they deteriorate before the fair winds down.
Families who stay at the fair all week long to be near their animals are often exhausted, broke and eager to return home before the gates close on the final night.
Those who count on earning extra income by working at the fair may be the most crestfallen. There will be one less day in their work week.
The Douglas County Fair is known as one of the best county fairs in the state. It continues the tradition of farm and home exhibits but also offers a variety of entertainment to make each year a new experience.
Waiting one more day to open the fair gates, power up the carnival rides and enter the show ring shouldn’t detract from the success of the Douglas County Fair.