The 2017 Washington Town and Country Fair offered five days of “Fairadise,” along with a few challenges with a last-minute band change and weather, but was very successful, said Joe Maniaci, outgoing chairman.
Maniaci gave the annual Fair report at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast meeting Thursday morning at the Washington KC Hall.
He recalled how the Fair Board had to scramble to lay a blacktop pad for the 9/11 exhibit just two weeks out for opening day.
“But it was certainly worth it,” he said.
Then, just one day before opening, the Lynyrd Skynyrd band canceled due to health reasons. Maniaci said the Fair Board stepped up and booked Big and Rich.
“We didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “Fast forward to Sunday, due to rain the night before and the threat that day, we had to cancel the motorcross for the first time ever. Again the Fair Board stepped up, the weather cleared and we had a great ending.”
Maniaci said the success of the Fair would not be possible without the effort of so many in the community. He singled out the 23-member Fair Board for its dedicated service, the city, parks, ambulance, police, Chamber and the countless volunteers who work at and sponsor the many events.
The Washington community makes the Fair the success it is, he said, and shared a quote that sums up that support.
“There is not much out there stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
Maniaci said more important than any record being set is the amount of money being funneled back into the community.
For the 16th consecutive year, the total economic impact of the Fair has topped the $1 million mark at $1,316,056.53, down slightly from the 2016 Fair, which was $1,336,409.
The 2015 Fair had an impact of $1,423,678, while the 2014 Fair had a record economic impact of $1,543,547.
The local economic impact includes money spent on capital improvements; supplies and services purchased from area merchants; money earned by school, civic, church and service organizations; salaries paid to the Chamber staff; and prize money paid out to exhibitors and contestants.
Total revenue for the 2017 Fair was down slightly from the previous year at $2,173,177. The 2016 Fair reported a record revenue of $2,303,333.
It is the fifth consecutive year that Fair revenues have exceeded $2 million.
Expenses for the Fair came in at $2,086,351, down from $2,170,718.70 in 2016.
Maniaci said the 2017 Fair posted a net profit of $86,826, down about $45,788 from the previous year.
The Fair paid out $24,100 in premiums and prize money to contestants, along with $9,250 in livestock and Fair Queen and her court scholarships.
In 2016, $36,387 in premiums and prize money was awarded and scholarships totaled $9,450.
Near Record Auction
Maniaci said the Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction, which includes market steers, hogs, lambs and milk, paid out $450,573.25, almost on par with the last two Fairs.
The 2016 Fair paid out $457,125 to local youth and in 2015, a record $457,898 was paid out.
In the last 10 years over $4 million has been paid out to kids in the community.
All but 1 percent of the money bid in the livestock auctions goes back to the youth exhibitors. The money held back is put into a scholarship fund for youth who show livestock.
Maniaci said donations to local service organizations set a record $146,869.59. These are the funds paid to schools, churches and civic groups which work the gates, concessions and parking lots during the Fair.
This is money that goes right into the community, he said.
In 2016, donations to these organizations totaled $145,299, and in 2015, donations totaled about $139,434.
Supplies and services purchased through local businesses totaled $561,726.11, up from $536,442 in 2016. This includes Chamber salaries, labor for cleanup and data entry.
The Fair also made capital improvements to the fairgrounds totaling about $36,711.33, up from $25,261 the previous year.
Maniaci gave special recognition to Brian Gildehaus, his co-chair and the 2018 Fair chairman, and the Fair Board.
“What an honor it is to work alongside 23 dedicated volunteers to bring you one of the best Fairs in the state,” he said.