By Cheryl Petersen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — While the Delaware County Fair may not have started with a bang, it didn’t go out with a whimper, either.
The fair received a mediocre attendance last Monday, fair board director Kevin O’Brien said Saturday, with rubber boots the fashion for Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.
“The rainy wet days meant for a lower than normal attendance,” O’Brien said. “But every day after that attendance picked up and was on track with other years.”
“By the end of the week, I’d say the attendance was a tad up compared to last year,” said Danny Hodges, fair board president. “The 5K Run was fantastic and the concert had a great turnout.”
The 5K run, held on Saturday morning, was one of the new features at the fair. “Over 150 runners registered,” Chairman Beth O’Brien commented. “Quite a few of the runners came from out of state because they were able to take showers afterward and attend the fair on Saturday. We advertised on Active.com and Facebook, and people came.”
The crowd of runners drew comment from Erica Gretchen, an operator for Fast Finishes, the company that timed each rider.
“This is an awesome turn out for an inaugural 5K run,” Gretchen observed. After the run, awards were handed out in 6 categories, plus overall awards for the best man and best woman, who each also received tickets for the Saturday evening Montgomery Gentry concert.
Each participant received a runner’s bag which included among other items, a water bottle and a t-shirt stamped with this year’s logo, The Fair with the Flair. The run began at 8:30 a.m., bolstering a morning crowd.
The vendors serving breakfast ramped up accordingly for the early Saturday throng. The EMS squad also scheduled for more of the EMS staff to be on site the last day of the fair. Michelle Phoenix, EMS member, said, “Between the 5K run and nice weather, the team stayed busy with a large crowd.”
The EMS staff deals with a constant flow of bee stings, bumps and bruises, as well as “horse bites, derby incidents, and bull riding injuries,” Phoenix said.
Phoenix and the rest of the squad navigated the crowded fairgrounds via golf cart, and used mobile equipment supplied by Delaware County emergency units and fire departments. But Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond chose a more old-fashioned means of transportation.
While in uniform, DuMond traveled the crowds as a mounted patrol on three different days.
“From the horse, I could see over the crowd. And, I could get around quicker,” he observed.
On horseback, DuMond was able to navigate between the parking lot and the fairgrounds with swift ease. “The fairgoers like the mounted patrol too, they can pet the horse or give the horse treats,” added DuMond.
While he was only on duty for a few days of the fair, DuMond said he was at the fair “all week, 24/7,” noting that attendance was definitely “comparable to other fair years.”
Abby Wilson, longtime fair vendor with Maple Shade Farms, agreed.
“Once the cold rain stopped, people came, and I think attendance could be up compared to other years, because the weather at end of the week was really nice,” she said. “It felt like a bustling busy crowd during the weekend evenings.”
Franklin Mayor John Campbell, whose family was at the horse barn throughout the week, called the weekend evenings “mobbed.” Campbell said that, although a few of the horse classes had fewer exhibits this year, the hunter and western classes were full.
“This is the second year that fairgoers were asked to fill out exhibit entries online,” Hodges noted. “Transitioning to an online entry system probably resulted in fewer exhibits, however, entering online saves on paper. The Fair Board will continue to revisit how to make exhibit entries user-friendly.”