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MailTribune.com
  • Jackson County Fair attendance tops last year's by 2.5 percent

    More than 80,000 people turned out for the event; exact revenue amounts won't be available until next week
  • Jackson County Fair officials said Wednesday that this year's fair was profitable, with attendance and revenues both up, though exact amounts won't be available until next week.
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  • Jackson County Fair officials said Wednesday that this year's fair was profitable, with attendance and revenues both up, though exact amounts won't be available until next week.
    Expo Director Dave Koellermeier conservatively estimated that attendance topped 80,000 over the week, a 2.5 percent increase over last year's attendance of 78,000, but down about 6 percent from 2012's total of more than 85,000.
    Koellermeier expected the attendance number to rise as he continued reconciling fair passes given out to various groups.
    The fair received more than $105,000 in donations from the Friends of the Fair Foundation, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and private donors. The money was used to offset the cost of providing free admission to children 12 and under and free admission to everyone on Sunday.
    "I think we made it very affordable for young families," said Koellermeier.
    Food and beverage sales were up 30 percent and carnival revenues up 25 percent, Koellermeier said.
    Koellermeier declined to estimate the total revenue or profits from the fair Wednesday, but said he was certain the event was profitable, and he would have numbers by early next week.
    "It worked out well for us," he said.
    Koellermeier credited the success of this year's fair to several changes, including a new carnival, more free live music and free parking on Friday night.
    The carnival set a one-day record on Saturday for the most rides taken in recorded fair history, with at least two engagement proposals taking place on the carnival's Ferris wheel.
    "Happiness at the fair is the most important thing," said Koellermeier.
    A new free smartphone app about the fair was downloaded by nearly 3,000 people, and garnered nationwide attention from other fairs.
    "We're getting calls from all over," said Koellermeier. "It was wildly popular."
    The app included details for navigating the fair, event information and a commenting feature.
    This year's 4-H and Future Farmers of America auctions grossed just under $1 million.
    "For an area of this size, that's unbelievable," said Koellermeier.
    A small percentage of the auction amount is also factored into the fair revenue, he said.
    Koellermeier said the fair is proving to be a sustainable event for The Expo, along with other events such as the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo and the Harvest Festival. But more work is needed, he said.
    "What we need is to have additional (sustainable events)," said Koellermeier. "Over time we're going to need to add additional revenue streams . . . we're working really hard."
    A survey to gather input on the success of the fair is being circulated by fair officials, and can be found on the "At the Expo Jackson County" Facebook page.
    Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at teresa.ristow@gmail.com.
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