A five-day stretch of sizzling temperatures for South Sound cooled attendance numbers for the 2015 Thurston County Fair.
This year’s turnout dropped about 25 percent from 36,700 people in 2014 to 26,250 attendees, according to fair event coordinator Theresa Reid. Revenue-wise, the event garnered $185,000, down from more than $200,000 in 2014.
Officials say they weren’t surprised by the numbers because temperatures stayed in the 90s during fair week. The average high temperature in Lacey during the week was a sweltering 97 degrees, and the event goes down in the history book as the hottest fair on record, at least as long as that data has been collected, Reid said.
“When it gets that hot, it just is what it is,” she said. “We’re weather dependent.”
The fair offered water misting stations and extra shade tents to help keep visitors cool. But some people, including many of the event’s 60 or so vendors, just had to gut it out.
“We actually threw a thermometer in our booth, and it hit at 105 degrees almost every day,” said Debbie Lattin, co-owner of Lattin’s Country Mill & Farm. “It was just a little too hot.”
The drop in attendees equaled slower sales, Lattin said. But overall she said she still felt it was a successful event.
“I love seeing all the exhibits,” Lattin said. “…And supporting the 4-H kids.”
The fair’s annual market animal sale raised more than $81,000, pushing the 25-year-old event’s total revenue to more than $1.5 million, according to a county news release. Proceeds of the sale benefit 4-H and FFA youths.
In addition, fairgoers donated about 8,000 pounds for the Thurston County Food Bank during the “One-Buck Wednesday” food drive, Reid said.
Fair participation numbers were up, Reid said. This year, 614 cats, bunnies, chickens, goats and other animals were entered to compete in the various club and open class contests at the fair, up from 585 a year ago.
Folks shouldn’t worry about whether the animals were too hot. The barns had water misters and fans for the animals, too.
“They’re kind of spoiled here,” Reid said.