October 25, 2014

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Lorain County Fair sees increase in attendance

Harry Leonardi of Harry's Transmission has a face full of mud and determination Sunday in the Demolition Derby at the Lorain County Fair. RAY RIEDEL/CHRONICLE

Harry Leonardi of Harry’s Transmission has a face full of mud and determination Sunday in the Demolition Derby at the Lorain County Fair. RAY RIEDEL/CHRONICLE

WELLINGTON — The 168th Lorain County Fair went well, according to organizers and participants.

From its opening Monday through Sunday, 130,673 attended the fair, according to Kim R. Meyers, Lorain County Fair president. Last year, 126,497 attended the fair compared to 136,145 in 2011 and 131,675 in 2010.

Charisse Nikel, fair secretary and office manager, said this is the first time since at least 2009 that people 60 and older, military members and veterans got in free for two days instead of one, which may have decreased paid attendance. General admission tickets were $5.

Meyers said good weather helped attendance. Meyers, who’s been involved with the fair since 1989 and on the 21-member board since 2004, said tradition is a big part of the fair. For some, it is a chance to reconnect with friends or relatives they only see once a year. Some families camp out in trailers on the fairgrounds for the weeklong fair.

“They’re some of the best people you can find,” Meyers said. “It’s a special time.”

Meyers said he didn’t have an annual estimate on fair revenue, but said profits are pumped back into the fair. Between $250,000 and $300,000 was spent this year on improvements, including road resurfacing, roof replacements and new waterlines.

“Every year, we’re looking at areas that are falling apart,” Meyers said.

There were 600 to 700 vendors at the fair, and Meyers said many vendors own family businesses and participate annually. Vendors pay between $1,000 and $1,800 for outdoor booths and $400 to $500 for indoor booths.

Among the regulars is Tim “Big Dog” Graham of Big Dog Catering, 194 W. Herrick Ave. Graham said he’s had a booth since 2000 and business was good this year. Graham credited his employees hard work for his business’ success.

“This is run so smooth, it scares me,” he said.

Among the fairgoers Sunday night were Mark and Cassie Wright, of LaGrange Township, who brought their 8-year-old daughter, Anna, and 1-year-old son, Franklyn. The Wrights said they’ve been attending the fair since they started dating in 1997.

Mark Wright said he enjoys the atmosphere, food and rides at the fair.

“I don’t think there’s anything not to like about it,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.