Sunday, December 08, 2013
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The BMX Freestyle shows were a big hit again this year at the Polk County Fair. The popularity of the event has fair officials planning four days worth of shows next year.
August 27, 2013
RICKREALL -- The BMX Freestyle shows and Walk on the Wild Side were a hit once again at the 2013 Polk County Fair.
So was Southwest Polk Rural Fire Protection District's new "junior" firefighters obstacle course.
But the new nightly entertainment format brought in smaller-than-hoped-for crowds. And Saturday's afternoon thunderstorm? That was just a bummer.
In the end, however, revenue for the four-day fair, held Aug. 8-11, grew slightly compared to 2012.
"We did just a little bit more than last year," said Tina Andersen, fair manager. "Not much, just a little, about 2 percent."
Andersen said the goal for the fair each year is to grow revenue about 5 to 10 percent.
If not for Saturday's storm, the fair may have been closer to its goal.
"We were down in attendance about 350 on Saturday, probably because of the rain," Andersen said. "But attendance was up on Sunday ... It always depends on the weather. If we had really hot weather, we would have had the same thing."
Weather wasn't the only factor in the 2013 fair outcome, though.
Two events, BMX and the obstacle course, were such a draw they are already booked for next year.
Southwest Polk is planning for a bigger obstacle course and BMX Freestyle will have a show all four days during the 2014 fair.
"We will be putting them (BMX Freestyle) up front on the asphalt, so they can do a little more," Andersen said. "That was very popular."
Changes to the entertainment lineup -- at least for the first year -- weren't as successful.
Andersen rearranged the schedule slightly, allowing for headliner acts on Thursday, Friday, Saturday. More people attended the shows, but not as many as expected.
"They say it takes a couple years before people realize you have a little bit better entertainment," Andersen said.
She also fielded complaints -- quite a few, in fact -- about not having laser tag in the fair activity lineup this year.
"I try to change things every few years so people aren't seeing the same things, but apparently that wasn't something I should have changed," Andersen said, laughing.
Fairgoers also had the opportunity to see what more long-term growth may look like at the fairgrounds.
The fair board's vision plan for its expanded footprint -- the additional 16 acres purchased through the Polk County Fair Foundation's fundraising -- was on display during the fair's four-day run. Andersen said several people left comments, mostly encouraging the board to do what it can to keep the facility open.
If you missed seeing the plans at the county fair, Andersen said there will be more opportunities.
"They (the fair board members) are probably going to hold some open houses as we move forward," she said.