Ticket sales at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have climbed steadily this summer and are up 1 percent compared to last year, the festival's executive director said.

Ticket sales at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have climbed steadily this summer and are up 1 percent compared to last year, the festival's executive director said.

OSF officials are delighted at the news, especially because — in the throes of the recession last fall — they predicted ticket sales might plummet as much as 7 percent this year.

"This puts us significantly better that we had ever anticipated being," said Paul Nicholson, the festival's executive director. "It's awfully busy and there are a lot of very happy people around."

Through April ticket sales were down 3.5 percent. But as soon as summer set in, the tickets started selling fast, Nicholson said.

If the trend continues, this could be the festival's best season ever, he said.

Last year, the festival sold 400,851 tickets, its second highest number ever. During the record year, in 2007, OSF sold 404,735 tickets.

If sales stay up about 1 percent through the end of this season, the festival should sell between 400,000 and 404,000 tickets, Nicholson said. OSF is playing at 89 percent of capacity, Nicholson said.

— Ashland Daily Tidings