This year’s Cumming Country Fair & Festival was another record-breaker.
Dave Horton, director of the Cumming Fairgrounds, said the 11-day festival, which wrapped up Sunday, far surpassed the previous attendance record, which was set last year.
“We broke our attendance record considerably. Last year it was about 141,000 and this year it was just under 167,600,” said Horton, adding that the large leap came as a bit of shock.
“We were thinking we had a shot at 150,000, but just to get past 141,000 would have been good.”
He said several factors likely contributed to the excellence turnout.
“We had a couple of different promotions we did this year that helped boost our numbers, and again we had as good of weather as you could ever ask for,” he said. “Two years in a row with weather like we had is unusual, but we’ll certainly take it.”
It rained just once during the fair’s run, and that was on a Sunday night.
Among the promotions that probably helped out, Horton said, were two new $25 unlimited ride specials that were offered on both Saturdays. A canned food drive on the fair’s final day, during which patrons could receive free admission if they brought seven canned items, also was popular.
All the donations were given to Feed the Hungry Forsyth, a local food pantry that partners with several other food programs throughout the county.
“I know booth gates A and C had three pallets and were working on a fourth pallet each,” he said. “For a first year, we were very pleased with the turnout on the food drive and that’s one of those things that after the first year, it will build considerably.”
He pointed to the Marietta fair, which he said began holding a food drive a few years ago.
“When Marietta started, they filled one box truck, which is about six or eight pallets,” Horton said. “And this year, of course they had I think three nights where people could bring food, but they had three tractor trailers of food, so that’s huge.”
The first Saturday of the Cumming fair saw the highest attendance of any single day — 29,900 people — in its 16-year history, Horton added. It was followed closely by the second Saturday, which drew about 100 fewer people.
“Our records had been in the 24,000 to 26,000 range for Saturdays, so we gained quite a bit,” Horton said.
As far as the future of the festival, Horton said he thinks it’s only bright due to the support the event receives.
“The mayor and city council have always had a vision for the fairgrounds and they continue to not only support what we’re doing out here, but they also continue to see things that we need to do and budget for those so we’re able to add some new things here and there,” Horton said.
“They continue to put money back into the fair and not let it stagnate … I think that’s what keeps people coming back because there’s always something new to see.”
But he admitted topping the new record could be a challenge.
“I guess we’ll have to set [our next attendance goal] at 175,000 or so and hope for 11 beautiful days of weather every year,” he said. “Those will be some records that are hard to beat.”