Â IMPERIAL -Despite two days of blustery weather that opened the 2014 California Mid-Winter Fair, the attendance nearly equaled the record attendance numbers that were recorded in 2013.
At closing day Sunday, 101, 359 people had come through the turn styles, a decrease of only two percent from the year before.
“The fact we were down just a little bit is amazing when you think of the bad weather we had for the first two days,” said Theresa Garcia, fair chief executive officer.
Scattered rain and wind held crowds down the first Saturday of the fair, a day that typically has been one of the busiest of the 10 day run.
“We are very pleased these numbers and with the outcome of the fair,” said Garcia. “This Valley supports its fair in a big way and I want to thank our outstanding fair board, staff and volunteers, as well as the many sponsors who continue to make this fair possible.”
There were 56 local acts performing on the grounds during the fair. Additionally, the Junior Livestock Auctions generated an estimated record total of $1,755,516 for the sellers.
With the elimination of state subsidies for fairs, it is very important that the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta be self-supporting through generation of its own revenue.
The carnival, Helm and Sons Amusements, a major partner of the fair, made a major comeback after the first few days and reported a near all-time record in carnival sales. Meanwhile, food concession sales were up 13 percent over 2013.
This year also had some very popular new attractions.
The junior exhibits building was converted into Inspiration Gallery and brought renewed focus on the youth exhibits provided by the FFA, 4-H, Grange youth organizations in our community as well as the independent youths.
Life Styles, renamed Creative Arts Department, also had a new and more expansive home in the Hulsienda building while school art exhibits occupied the former Life Styles Building.
Meanwhile, for adults, the California Mid-Winter Fair Heritage Foundation created the Palm Oasis concession area as well as rendered major support to the Red Neck Rodeo on the last day of the fair.
This event, which began last year as Haul ‘n Brawl, attracted 72 participants from the Valley’s agriculture and trucking community.
Another popular event this year was the return of auto racing produced by our local Imperial Motorsports Promotions.
The races filled the grandstands on the final Saturday with an enthusiastic crowd that was attracted by the 40 cars competing for prize money.
Another partnership, with the Imperial County Film Commission, helped the Preble Building’s displays that featured highlights from movies filmed in the Valley.
And one of the most popular attractions was again Doc’s Farm, named in honor of the late veterinarian Dr. James Thompson.
Thousands of guests enjoyed the barn and watched its population grow. Four calves were born at the fair as well as one goat. In addition, its population consisted of 30 baby chicks and four hens.