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Cumming Fair ‘a big revenue generator’ for city, local businesses
Fair Finances
Customers line up to grab a bite to eat on Wednesday as part of opening day of the Cumming Country Fair and Festival. - photo by Brian Paglia

For most, the Cumming Country Fair & Festival means a time to hang out with friends and family, enjoy rides, check out some concerts and see historic attractions they may not see anywhere else.

But for the city of Cumming and local businesses, the fair offers a financial boon each year as attendees from all over come to check out the festivities. In 2018, the fair brought in a total revenue of about $1.3 million for the Cumming Fairgrounds.

“The fair itself is a big revenue generator for the fairgrounds. Of course, there’s an awful lot of cost that goes along with that, but it definitely helps to cover the cost for the rest of the year at the fairgrounds,” said Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow. “The year before I took office the fairgrounds lost $600,000 for a year, so the fair made money but the fairgrounds lost money. Then, my first year in office [in 2018], we pretty much broke even.”

Brumbalow said despite the fair itself making money, the loss in previous years was caused by upkeep and paying employees.

There are a variety of areas that create revenue, such as admission fees, parking, money spent at the general store and games on the midway, and while those individual categories may fluctuate each year, in general, fair revenue has had a steady increase each year.

The fair brought in $1.1 million in revenue in 2017, $1.3 million in 2018, $1.1 million in 2015 and $925,000 in 2014.

The slight dip in 2017 was likely due to the fair closing for an entire day due to rainy weather.

Brumbalow said each year, fairgrounds officials look at the financials from the previous year’s fair to see how much money was made and how much was spent.

He said with the fair now in its 25th year, fairgrounds staff knows what has worked and what hasn’t, but there are tweaks each year to how business is done, such as changing or limiting attractions or bringing new ones in.

“It’s like the cotton gin; we buy less cotton,” Brumbalow said. “We still run the cotton gin, but you break it down into fewer shows. You still get the same effect, but you’re also more profitable.”

Brumbalow said the city has looked at ways to keep the fair profitable, such as hosting more events at the fairgrounds during the rest of the year and adding a new bridge over Castleberry Road connecting to a parking lot for the fair.

“When you go back and look historically, it’s pretty much grown every year,” he said. “I think all the events that we’ve been doing year-round now, that brings more awareness to the fairgrounds itself. I think the bridge itself and the billboards on the bridge, that just brings more awareness and brings some excitement.”

While the fair is a big money-maker for the city, the municipality isn’t the only one that benefits, and many businesses see a benefit, such as hotels, which welcome costumers from all over the country during the fair.

“Many families tell us they put this on their must-do list for their fall bucket list, which is really fun, to hear all the families from all over Georgia that attend our event,” said Michelle Daniels, director of tourism at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “The financial benefit of that is they fill their tanks with gas and eat at our local restaurants and visit our local establishments. That, of course, helps with our local tax digest.”

Daniels said restaurants also see a big boost from fair customers, including out-of-town visitors who also go to other local attractions while they’re here.

“I’ve heard from a lot of restaurants,” Daniels said. “After the fair is done, it’s fun to connect with them, and sometimes they’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we had a family come all the way from Wyoming that came to visit.’ It’s just fun to hear from the business owners themselves about the foot traffic that comes in at The Collection or over at Vickery Village. They truly see visitors at all regions of our county.”

This year’s fair opened on Thursday and will continue through Sunday, Oct. 13. More information and general admission tickets are available online at CummingFair.Squarespace.com. The Cumming Fairgrounds is located at 235 Castleberry Road.