Fairs compete against one another

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Shelby County Fair performed to expectations this past week with more than 15,000 attending, said fair manager John Jones.

Attendance was down from last year’s record-setting total but slightly exceeded 2006’s tally. Fair organizers didn’t expect this year’s fair to match last year’s total, Jones said.

“We were very pleased with the fair. We would have liked to have had more attendance, but it was a very good fair,” Jones said.

Jones said the quality of the fair was higher than ever, with more participation from area vendors who sold products such as canned goods and arts and crafts. There was also more livestock to show.

“People who came said it was way better than we had in the past,” he said.

Although Pelham’s Alabama State Fair overlapped with the Shelby County Fair for two days, Friday and Saturday, Jones said he didn’t think the Pelham event took customers away.

“There’s no way of determining that, but I don’t think it did,” he said. “I went over there and what they had is a carnival, food booths and a petting zoo. They didn’t have any arts and crafts or any competitions.”

Universal Fairs CEO Mark Lovell said the Alabama State Fair did slightly better than expected on its opening weekend, bringing in more than 50,000 people. The fair kicked off on Sept. 19 and will run through Sept. 28.

Lovell said he expects the fair to bring in 125,000 to 150,000 attendees before its end.

“The people that come out, we’ve been interviewing them and they seem to be having a great time,” he said. “The facility is really nice and there’s a lot of parking.”

The Pelham event will feature motorcycle shows, football tailgating parties, a petting zoo and Nickelodeon characters such as Dora the Explorer.

The Alabama State Fair is drawing attendees primarily within a 50-mile radius from cities such as Birmingham, Pelham and Hoover, Lovell said.