Record crowd, record auction at 135th Annual Fair

August 20, 2010
Santa Paula News

A record crowd went to this year’s 12-day Ventura County Fair, where a second record was set at the animal auction.

The 135th annual fair ended Sunday with the final attendance tally coming in at 328,520 people, up seven percent over 2009’s 306,696 visitors. The attendance figure for fairgoers in 2008 totaled 321,338, and in 2007, 309,943 people visited the fair held at Seaside Park in Ventura.

“The fair was great,” noted Ginger Gherardi of Santa Paula, a director of the 31st Agricultural Association, which oversees operations at the state-owned park. Although overall attendance improved, Gherardi said, “The only thing I wished for was the weather could have been better, but other than that the fair was filled with smiling people and we couldn’t be happier.”

The only discordant note came on the Wednesday when reggae fusion band Sublime performed in concert. “As to be expected, we had some little skirmishes” at the concert venue, which filled with 1,200 fans leaving 2,000 outside, some of whom attempted to gain entry by pushing through gates and jumping fences.

The annual auction of animals raised and entered into competition by 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America members drew a record total bid of more than $1.1 million, which, said Gherardi, “is incredible... they usually take in about $600,000. The auction had incredible support from the Wood-Clayssens Foundation, and one of the big buyers was T & T Truck and Crane.” And everybody was a winner, as “At least half or more of the meat purchased is going to Food Share, so not only did kids make money on it, but it’s being used to feed the hungry, which is fabulous.”

Now that the 2010 Fair is over, planning has already begun on the next event, at least after staff met to debrief on “Western Lights & Carnival Lights” - the theme of this year’s celebration. But there’s always something going on at Seaside Park.

“We have a lot of activity planned,” including construction on the Surfer’s Point project - slated to break ground early next month - and at the Ag Building, where new animal pens will be constructed, “hopefully started at the end of January.... Then of course,” said Gherardi, are “all the regular shows held year-round at Seaside Park.”

When it comes to the annual fair, “Everybody is always tired once it’s over, it’s also slightly sad.” But, Gherardi noted, “I’m looking forward to next year!”

Other 2010 fair statistics show pre-sale ticket sales increased by 6.5 percent, and admissions totaled $1.54 million. Carnival rides generated $1.76 million, 35 percent more than the $1.3 million sold last year, but slightly less than the $1.8 million in 2008.

The largest crowd - 55,006 people - showed up Wednesday, one of the Dollar Days and the same day Sublime performed. Gherardi said many of those who attended that high attendance Wednesday came after the Dollar Day deadline.

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