A freak windstorm during its opening weekend hurt the Delaware County Fair's bottom line, but couldn't keep it or its patrons down, fair officials declared last week.

A freak windstorm during its opening weekend hurt the Delaware County Fair's bottom line, but couldn't keep it or its patrons down, fair officials declared last week.

The 2008 fair likely will be remembered as the first one which had to be evacuated, because of 75-mph winds.

The historic weather-induced closure on Sept. 14 also forced fair officials to delay the fair's opening until noon on Sept. 15, and left the fairgrounds without power until the following morning.

Although final revenue and attendance figures had yet to be tabulated as of last Wednesday, interim fair manager Phil Terry said the storm had a significant impact.

"Revenues were down because of Sunday and Monday," Terry said. "The gate was free on Monday, so we lost that entire day.

"We were very limited as far as racing on Monday, and were down over $100,000 in wagering on Monday. We also lost five races on Sunday, so we had to bring back four stake races (later in the week)."

Still, Terry dubbed the 2008 fair a success, and pointed to its rapid recovery from the storm as a key factor in reaching the conclusion.

"I think all things considered, it turned out very well," he said. "Once we got through the weather and electrical issues, we had good crowds.

"By 7:30 the night of the storm, we had almost every piece of significant damage recorded and things were being worked on. We were able to open back up because of that, and from that aspect, it was very pleasing."

Terry said the "amazing" work put in by fair board members and volunteers to clear the fairgrounds of fallen trees and other storm debris helped the fair to a rapid recovery.

He said Thursday's announced attendance of 50,700 for the Little Brown Jug harness race was a "very good crowd," and said attendance records likely were set on the fair's final two days.

"We had 600-and-some people more than we've ever had before on a final Friday, and about 1,100 more than we've ever had on a Saturday," he said.

Terry said fair traditions such as youth livestock exhibits, motor sports and harness racing events again proved to be popular, and the additions of a VIP tent on Jug Day and a closing fireworks display were well-received.

The community's efforts to help the fair resume after the storm also contributed to the 2008 fair's success, Terry said.

He added that the storm, its aftermath and the response it generated likely will make this year's fair one for the ages.

"I think it will be a memorable one for a long time," Terry said. "The way people responded when we had to stop the racing and evacuate the fairgrounds was just tremendous."

nellis@thisweeknews.com