ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers say radical changes to the Essex County Fair are needed if it is to survive.
The fair was held on some of the same days this year as the Addison (County) Field Days in Vermont and the Franklin County Fair in Malone.
Attendance figures aren’t available yet but are believed to be several thousand less than last year’s 10,000 paid admissions.
Supervisor Michael Marnell (R-Schroon) said this week that the fair needs more equipment displays.
“We discussed the shortfalls of the fair, operating the fair. I noticed a lack of vendors we had.”
He said Egglefield Ford of Elizabethtown was the only one that had any vehicles there.
“For next year, can we contact vendors and tell them we’d like to see them up there. There’s plenty of vacant ground.”
He said the Saratoga County Fair had 50 to 100 farm tractors, plus motorcycles and four-wheelers on display.
Some members of the County Board of Supervisors said more attractions and events are needed to make the fair more successful.
Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport), the Board of Supervisors liaison to the fair, said it rained almost every day at this year’s Essex County Fair.
“That reduced attendance. All three (fairs) are the same week now. We have to find a carnival that will come a different time.”
The Essex County Agricultural Society, which rents the fairgrounds from the county, is the entity that is hurt by reduced attendance, not the county, he said.
“We (the society) still pay the same amount of money to the county.”
Connell said they’d like to move the fair back a week earlier next year but have to make sure the traveling carnival and rides can come that week.
The fair was Aug. 8 to 12 this year.
“I guess the question is, is it viable or not?” Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said. “I am under the impression it was not a successful event. I am just wondering whether county fairs are feasible, given what is going on with the economy today.”
Connell said county fairs find it hard to break even.
“There are only three or four fairs in the state that break even on the fair (itself). They break even by the rental of the grounds (for events) throughout the year.”
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