Despite a double stabbing downtown before the 56th annual Capital Lakefair began and an attention-grabbing fire at the Oyster House during it, the five-day fair is projected to surpass last year’s revenue by 5 percent, organizers said Sunday.
Total revenue figures were not immediately available because the fair ended Sunday night.
Although there was excitement unrelated to Lakefair last week, the weather was good, and that’s typically the biggest factor when it comes to how well the fair is going to do, longtime executive director Bob Barnes said.
In other words, it wasn’t too hot and it didn’t rain, he said.
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“Weather is the key,” Barnes said. “It’s the weather, the weather, the weather.”
Barnes acknowledged that the fair got off to a slow start on Wednesday, likely due to the news of the stabbings downtown the day before, but then picked up later in the week.
“Friday night was a great night for us,” he said.
Just after Friday midnight, though, is when a fire was reported at the Oyster House on Fourth Avenue. The fire eventually destroyed the historic restaurant at Percival Landing.
Although tragic, the fire and the media attention surrounding it also brought people down to Lakefair because so many were curious to see what had happened to the nearby Oyster House, said George Sharp, a member of the Capitalarians, the group that helps stage Lakefair. Sharp also is the executive director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Capital Lakefair operates on a budget of about $250,000, which is generated by the carnival, sponsorships and a percentage of food sales.
About 25 to 30 percent of the budget is used for scholarships for the Capital Lakefair royalty, as well as for donations to other community organizations.
Barnes also said there were two new nonprofit food vendors this year, including Transferring Financial Success of Lacey, a group that teaches money-management skills to students in grades six through 12.
Jeff Shaw and his wife, of Transferring Financial Success, were serving up Louisiana-style gumbo to customers.
Shaw said sales were a little slow for their first Lakefair, although they did have some repeat customers for their chicken-and sausage-gumbo. Shaw said he hopes his nonprofit catches on with organizations that award scholarships, so that recipients will first have to learn some money-management skills before receiving the scholarship, he said.
Meanwhile, business was steady at the booth for the Thurston County Democrats, long known for its “Demoburger.”
Treasurer Christine Garst said sales were up 10 percent over last year, which she also attributed to the weather and the group’s new, cleaned-up booth.
The group also introduced the “Liberty Burger” this year, a one-third-pound ground sirloin burger, infused with bacon.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog