Wilson County Promotions president Randall Clemons cited higher operation costs as a reason for the increase.
“Many times people don’t understand the cost of operating the fair as we have utilities, insurance, security, cleanup and trash, traffic, parking, etc.,” said Clemons. “We also pay rent on the new Expo Center, as well. Our entertainment costs, motorcross events and event costs continue to increase like in any other event.”
According to Clemons, the budgeted expenses for the 2017 fair were $1.8 million. The budget predicted a loss of money, which led the executive committee to recommend an increase in ticket prices to the board of directors.
Despite the $4 increase, the total attendance this year beat last year’s by 21,063 people with a total of 488,299 visiting the fair. It was also the sixth highest attendance on record.
“I think it went great,” said Rob Vivano, director of Amusements with America, the official partner and ride provider for the Wilson County Fair. “I’m very happy with the outcome, attendance was wonderful. I’m just very happy.”
One big draw to the fair this year was the solar eclipse day Aug. 21. More than 12,000 people attended before 3 p.m., including visitors from different states and even countries.
A couple from California and another from Knoxville got engaged at the event.
Other features included two concerts that featured the Oak Ridge Boys and Jason Crabb sponsored by Bates Ford, the largest flower show in fair history with more than 800 entries, dairy milking demonstrations for the first time and the unveiling of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics building.
“Our 300-member board of directors and 1,000 volunteers have put on one of the best fairs in our history,” said Clemons. “Our fair is a showcase of the talents of Wilson County, and we believe this year’s fair did that in a grand fashion.”