Hilliard Northwest News

Franklin County Fair

Attendance, proceeds surpass organizers' 2014 expectations

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Landon Moore, 14 months, rides the merry-go-round with his father, Tony Moore of Hilliard, at the Franklin County Fair Thursday, July 17.

Popular attractions and promotions, coupled with a healthy dose of cool, dry midweek weather, boosted attendance at the 2014 Franklin County Fair.

This year's fair, running July 12-19, had almost 42,000 visitors, said Christy Clark, a member of the Franklin County Agricultural Society who helped promote the fair.

Attendance exceeded the pre-fair target of 37,000 and while it did not reach the record of 55,000 visitors set in 2007, the 41,938 who walked through the gates spent more money than crowds in recent years.

Clark said receipts from the gates and amusement rides totaled $215,165, the most the fair has netted since the current form of record-keeping began in 2005.

"The board is absolutely thrilled with the attendance figures," said Clark, adding the revenue will be used to book attractions and grow the fair in years to come.

"DockDogs was a huge hit and we want to bring it back to the fair next year," Clark said.

The daily attraction drew dog owners from throughout the Midwest to compete in aquatic challenges for canines. Dogs competed in high jumps and long jumps into a pool as well as a timed running and swimming event.

Another popular draw, Clark said, was a pie-eating contest. There were only 10 contestants each in divisions for men, women and children but about 500 people viewed the contests, she said.

"I think three things helped bring people to the fair: entertainment, promotions and the weather," Clark said.

Attractions such as DockDogs increased attendance as well as promotions for specific times and days, Clark said, citing a promotion in cooperation with the Columbus Metropolitan Library as an example. The promotion provided children who completed a reading activity with discounted admission.

A mix of full-time and auxiliary Franklin County Sheriff's deputies worked long hours during the eight-day fair.

Earlier this year, Sheriff Zach Scott announced the sheriff's office could not support staffing the fair with full-time deputies at previous levels because of dwindling attendance at the fair.

The sheriff's office and the fair board in April appeared close to cutting ties but eventually reached an agreement for the sheriff's office to maintain its presence at the fair in a manner that allowed the office to maximize its resources.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert said previously the sheriff's office would continue to participate in fair activities and would observe the attendance at the 2014 fair to judge future staffing.