IOW fair sets attendance record

Published 11:04 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

ISLE OF WIGHT—Volunteers and the weather are credited for the success of this past week’s Isle of Wight County Fair, according to its event chairman, Mike Stephens.

Part of that success is seen in the number of people who visited and made a new attendance record. The four-day event, plus the Seafood Fest, attracted 33,886 people, according to a press release from Mark Furlo, head of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

He added this was an increase of 154 people coming through the gates.

“While the growth this year was not as dramatic as last year’s increase of over 4,000 from the previous record, any growth is a good indicator of the popularity of an event,” said Furlo.

The number was figured by ticket sales and volunteer count, said Stephens. He added that Debbie Braswell, financial coordinator, kept rigid accounting, and he’s confident in the numbers reported.

“I’m thrilled. I definitely have a good team,” Stephens said. “Without them and the sponsors we couldn’t get it done.

“I’m tickled attendance is what it is,” he continued. “It’s not a tribute to be me, but as a whole. There are hundreds of volunteers who spend thousands of hours.”

Stephens, who’s scheduled to be chairman of next year’s fair, said the committees will meet Monday to review and start planning for 2014. He and Furlo will be researching entertainment beginning late this year, early in 2014.

“We lost a key member, Stan Murrell, who’s stepping down as entertainment chair after 20 years,” Stephens said. “He’ll be hard to replace.”

Darlene Keyt, fair coordinator, affirmed the chairman’s take on the event success.

“The weather was definitely the icing on the cake this year regarding the fair,” said Keyt. “But, I have to add the Isle of Wight County Fair Committee is a very seasoned group and they take great pride in what they do.

“The record-breaking admission numbers just confirm this event is a great community partnership, and our volunteers truly make it happen,” she continued. “The secret is definitely out regarding the Isle of Wight County Fair. Some guests are coming as far away as Chesterfield.”

Furlo is also quite pleased with the turnout.

“We do a survey, and also an online survey,” he said. “We really like to get feedback from people who attend the fair. It helps to plan it for the future years.”

Much of the feedback that Furlo said he’s heard so far has been positive.

“What makes the fair so great is there so many things…Families can find something.

There’s really something for everyone. You really should plan to attend two-days,” he continued. “There’s so much entertainment packed into one event.”