Attendance more than doubles from last year’s
StoryThe theme of the 2009 edition of the oldest contiguous county fair west of the Mississippi was “LET’S GO WILD” and King County residents did just that, coming out in droves and giving new life to the 146th King County Fair. With the city of Enumclaw managing the Fair, turnout from July 16-18 is estimated at 35,118, more than doubling the 2008 attendance of 16,387.
“The credit for the success of the Fair goes to the city of Enumclaw and Mayor John Wise” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The Mayor, and the City worked very hard in a short period of time to put on a fun and model county fair.”
The additions to this year’s far included the return of the carnival rides such as the Scrambler, the critter crowning contest, the lawn mower races and local musicians.
King County invested $318,000 toward the fair in the 2009 County Budget. With the increase in attendance, the cost per attendee was approximately $9 per person. These numbers do not take into account the economic benefit the region received from the 35,118 visitors who visited the surrounding communities after going to the Fair.
The oldest county fair west of the Mississippi, the King County Fair has been a traditional celebration of King County's agricultural heritage, and has been a regional draw for organizations such as 4H, the Future Farmers of America and the equestrian community. But due to a number of factors, attendance revenue for the event at the Enumclaw Expo Center has declined in the last decade. As a result of declining attendance and a projected $93 million deficit in the 2009 County’s general fund, the fair’s $318,000 contribution from county taxpayers was cut from the Executive Ron Sims’ 2009 budget proposal.
The proposal to close the fair resulted in Councilmember’s offices being flooded with calls, emails and letters from residents advocating funding be restored. After weeks of public testimony, including a Town Hall Meeting hosted by Councilmembers Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer, the Council restored the funding and asked the city of Enumclaw to run it for 2009. The Council also created a Fair task force that is currently evaluating how to make the Fair sustainable for the future.
“The Task Force is making good progress. We plan to use the information we learned from this year’s fair to improve the fair over the long term” said Dunn. “The city of
Enumclaw and the Fair Manager Joan Lewis have stepped up and significantly improved the quality of this fair in a very short period of time.”