Washington Town & Country Fair Chair Jason Unnerstall said he can sum up the first two days of the Fair in one word: Awesome.
The 2019 Fair opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the city fairgrounds.
Speaking from the Fair office Friday morning, Unnerstall and his co-chair Jon Ballmann said the event is off to a fantastic start and weather has a lot to do with it.
“Two years in a row we’ve had great weather, which is unbelievable,” Unnerstall said. “The rain also is out of the forecast for the weekend so if that holds, we should see some really big crowds.”
With temps in the 80s and cooling off even more in the evenings, the chairmen said you can’t ask for anything better.
“Everything has run very smoothly and is going off as planned,” Unnerstall said.
Advance tickets sales are estimated at $373,341, down slightly from last year’s approximate $400,000.
Attendance Wednesday is estimated at 8,900 people, based on ticket scans, down just a bit from last year. Opening day in 2018 had been one of the largest in recent history.
Concessions for Wednesday are on par with last year and Unnerstall said that’s due to weather too with people coming out earlier, staying later and eating more.
“So even though we had fewer people, concessions sales were strong, so that’s always great to see,” he said.
The queen contest Wednesday night had a big turnout and many Fairgoers stuck around to watch Christian rock singer Micah Tyler perform.
Also drawing a crowd was freestyle American bullfighting opening night and bronc and bull riding Thursday night in the motor sports arena.
“Bull riding has been a big hit,” Unnerstall said. “We’ve had huge crowds down there.”
Thursday’s attendance is estimated at 9,200 — again down just slightly from the previous year.
The chairmen said they had people on the grounds all day Thursday and a good turnout for country music duo LOCASH on the Main Stage.
“These guys put on a great show. They are true entertainers,” Unnerstall said. “And they stuck around after the show to sign so many autographs, take photos and just mingle with the fans. They even pulled two people up on stage during the show, which was a lot of fun.”
Unnerstall said LOCASH arrived early Thursday morning and had time to play a round of golf at Franklin County Country Club.
The new carnival company, Fun Time Shows, has been great to work with, the chairmen said.
“The layout of the rides and the lights are fantastic,” Unnerstall noted. “The Ferris wheel is the centerpiece and it’s amazing.”
The company, based in Missouri, had some electrical issues initially, but those problems have been worked out and it should be smooth sailing the rest of the weekend, the chairmen said.
Ballmann said there was great participation with the livestock shows Wednesday and Thursday and the Fair Board is looking forward to the livestock auction Saturday.
More to Come
Looking ahead to the weekend, the chairmen said they are excited and the best is yet to come with a three-act concert planned Friday night, legendary rock band Styx Saturday night and country music star David Lee Murphy closing out the Main Stage entertainment on Sunday.
“We’re looking for big crowds all three days, but definitely Saturday with Styx,” Unnerstall said. “Everyone is talking about Styx. It’s all I hear on the grounds.”
Styx has a big fan base, ranging in age from teens to those in their 60s and older, the chairmen pointed out, and they hope that translates into a record turnout.
Big crowds also were expected for Friday night’s show featuring the Bottle Rockets, Old 97’s and Shooter Jennings.
“That’s three hours of music, you can’t beat that,” Unnerstall said.
In the motor sports arena this week, tractor pulls are planned both Friday and Saturday, and stadium motocross will begin Sunday afternoon.
Special exhibits on the grounds, including the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile exhibit, R/C racing and Live Shark Encounter, will be open through the weekend. All three have been drawing in the crowds, the chairmen said.
“The 9/11 exhibit is something everyone should take the time and go through,” Unnerstall said.
Kids and adults are really enjoying the remote-control racing, he said, which culminates Sunday with a race-off featuring all of the winners from Wednesday through Saturday.
The shark show has been a hit with all ages too, he added.
Unnerstall encourages everyone in the community to come out and get in on the fun.
“There is so much to do on the fairgrounds, but we couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” he said. “This year’s theme is Cheers to 90 Years and cheers to the volunteers.”