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Rainy Friday affects attendance


By Dan McGinnis

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Vero Beach, FL - The Indian River County Fair was held March 9 - 18, 2007. The event is sponsored by the Vero Beach Firefighters Association in cooperation with the Indian River County Fair Association. The theme for the fair this year was "The Fair, Be Seen There." Attendance was about 48,000, down slightly from 2006. This was due mainly to some rain Friday afternoon and evening, hurting attendance that day by about 50%.

Admission prices for the event were $5 at the gate and $4 if purchased in advance for adults, $3 for senior citizens 55 and up and youth 6 -12. Children under 6 were admitted free of charge. Parking, as always, was free. General Manager Toby Turner said the fair's website had over 4,000 hits in March alone and he believes the site assisted in increasing traffic and getting information to the public. He also reported advance sale admissions were up 2% this year because the fair gave away hourly prizes for those with advance sale tickets. "We gave away fair food, ride wristbands, additional gate passes and vendor and sponsor merchandise", said Turner.

On the midway, Strates Shows was down about 6.5% and advance sales were down about 3%. Opening day fireworks started the event along with a ride special March 9th of unlimited rides for $15. Sam's Club Family Fun Weekend was March 10th and 11th. Kiddieland wristbands were sold for $8 from 1pm until 6pm. Firehouse Garage sponsored March 12th with a wristband special for all municipal employees. On March 13th and 15th National Food Mart had $3 coupons available towards the purchase of an unlimited ride wristband. Closing day, March 18th, Indian River Medical Center offered a $15 wristband special from 1pm until closing. The firefighters were very thankful to the sponsors who participated in these promotions.

The fair had many attractions for guests. Tall Tex, Scarecrow, Tobar and Durty Dingus the rodeo clown all entertained. Local participation included the Vero Beach Recreation Department's Aerial Antics Circus as well as Sebastian Elementary Sensation. There was a roster crowing contest, a motorcycle display, karate demonstrations and a little Mr. and Miss Firefighter Pageant sponsored by Disney Vero Beach Resort.

Wambold Menagerie Circus and Mapapa African Acrobats performed daily and drew large crowds. Barlow Girl, a Christian band was presented by 91.9 FM Christian Radio and performed to a packed house. Other musical acts included Andrey Plata on steel drums, a 5 piece mariachi band and the River Rats duo.

Turner reported that indoor exhibit space was unavailable again this year due to the Indian River County Sheriff's Department using the fair's exhibit building as the county jail while the new jail wing is under construction. Exhibit space should be restored by the 2008 fair. Entries for swine, rabbits and citrus trees were up from 2006 but steer entries were slightly down. A limited number of competitive exhibits in baked goods, creative crafts and canning were also on display.

All proceeds from the event benefit local charities said Turner including the Indian River County Burn Fund, high school scholarships and fairgrounds improvements. The 2008 event themed "The Hottest Place In Town" will be held March 14 - 22.

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