15,000 attend IOW County Fair

Published 11:12 am Monday, September 19, 2011

The midway was lit up at the Isle of Wight County Fair on Saturday night. KATE ARCHER/TIDEWATER NEWS

WINDSOR—The Isle of Wight County Fair, which closed Sunday, had 14,000 visitors over four days compared to 29,500 in 2010.

“And we had perfect weather last year,” said Fair Coordinator Darlene Keyt.

This was also the first time the fair had to use satellite parking due to wet conditions of fields from Hurricane Irene on Aug. 27.

Thursday’s attendance was 125, Friday 5,561, Saturday 4,376 and Sunday 3,935.

On Thursday, fair officials were looking at a record number for Carload Night, which allows up to 12 people in a vehicle into the fair and unlimited rides for $30. The weather didn’t cooperate.

“We had two pending bands of electrical storms hovering nearby, so we were very cautious about opening the midway,” Keyt said.

Twenty-five families were let in while another 140 waited outside. The fair was shut down at 6 p.m. due to the storm.

The fair’s best attendance was Friday, when the weather was overcast and country singer Sunny Sweeney performed on the Main Stage.

Saturday, much of Western Tidewater experienced an all-day rain, while the fairgrounds didn’t get that much, Keyt said.

“We were jumping on Facebook and our web site, saying the fair wasn’t canceled,” she said.

The truck and tractor pull and 7 p.m. Main Stage performance with Grant Austin Taylor were canceled.

“The weather was supposed to break around 8 and our primary focus on Saturday was getting the word out,” Keyt said. “Because we closed on Thursday, people thought we were closed the whole weekend.”

The Jake Owen concert went off without a hitch.

“The diehards always come out to it,” she said. “We had a nice crowd.”

It misted some on Sunday morning followed by periods of sun, Keyt said.

“We took lemons and made lemonade on Sunday,” she said. “We changed our Redneck Hour from Saturday to Sunday and had a fun boot contest — the cutest boots, the muddiest boots.

On Friday night, fair officials arranged for Saturday’s satellite parking at Windsor Middle and Elementary schools and the Windsor Athletic Association. Isle of Wight County Public Schools provided buses to shuttle fairgoers. Keyt commended the Central Hill Hunt Club, which takes care of fair parking.

“They had their challenges,” she said.