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Fair shatters record
Weather keys new high for attendance
Fair WEB 1
A fair-goer rides the sky buckets last week during the 2012 Cumming Country Fair & Festival. Preparations are already under way for next year’s event. - photo by Autumn Vetter

This year’s Cumming Country Fair & Festival set a new attendance record.

Citing gate counts, Cumming Fairgrounds director Dave Horton said the festival drew more than 141,000 people during its 11-day run, which ended Sunday.

“Not only did we break the record, we completely blew it away,” he said.

The previous attendance record of about 127,500 was set in 2006.

“It was exciting because we’ve been looking to break that 130,000 mark for several years now,” Horton said. “That’s been our goal. And not only were we able to do that, but we were able to surpass that mark even to 140,000, so that’s going to set our next goal even higher.”

He noted that sunny skies and consistently warm temperatures throughout the fair were strong contributing factors in the high turnout.

“We just had a perfect weather pattern in our favor,” Horton said. “We had six record days within the 11-day run, so that helped fuel the final numbers.”

Horton said that while some other fairs throughout the event’s 18-year history have seen many sunny days, sometimes the cooler fall temperatures that arrive in early October can lead to lower attendance.

“We’ve had nine-, 10-, 11-day runs without rain, but it’d be like the first week it would be hot and then the next week during the night it’d be in the 30s or 40s,” he said.

“When you’re in this transition from summer to fall and you have a 30- or 40-degree shift in temperature, people feel it more.”

This year, temperatures stayed more consistent. Horton also noted the good bargain the fair can provide for family entertainment.

“Of course, we had some good lineups and some good specials throughout the fair that people were able to take advantage of,” he said. “Even with the economy down, it’s such a good deal … even on full admission [price] days, $7 or $3 is a cheap ticket for hours of activity.

“If people come in and do Heritage Village and the ground acts or see an entertainer, then all those are free, so they don’t have to spend a lot of money. It’s a situation where in hard times you can make that dollar go a little farther.”

As for next year’s fair, Horton said he and the fairgrounds staff have begun making preparations.

“We started working on next year’s fair about six months ago,” he said. “It’s a continuous process.

“As always, we took notes on what went right and what things we can do better and we’ll try to incorporate some of those ideas next year.”