For the 10th consecutive year, the total economic impact of the Washington Town and Country Fair has topped the $1 million mark — setting a new highwater mark at $1,410,352.
Incoming Fair Chairman Paul Brune gave the annual report Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce’s business breakfast meeting, held in the lower level of the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Al Behr, chairman of the 2013 Fair, was out of town so Brune delivered the report for “Summer’s Last Blast.”
Brune said the weather was a big factor in the success of this year’s Fair.
“The Lord gave us the ultimate opportunity with the summer of 2013,” he quoted Behr as saying. “Who could ask for better weather?”
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.
This year’s economic impact is up about $283,546 from the 2012 Fair which was $1,126,806. The 2011 Fair’s economic impact was $1,038,288.
The 2007 Fair previously held the record with a local economic impact of $1,387,180.48.
Brune said total revenue for this year’s Fair also set an all-time record at $2,148,616.
“This marks the first time revenue has exceeded the $2 million mark,” he said.
Expenses for the 2013 Fair totaled approximately $1,784,230 million, up from $1,643,364 last year.
Overall, this year’s Fair posted a net profit of approximately $364,386, up $187,211 from last year. The 2012 Fair had a net profit of about $176,789.
Brune said the Fair paid out $46,050 in premiums and prize money to contestants, along with $8,850 in scholarships.
Approximately $44,707 was paid out last year.
“Donations to organizations, which are indeed the lifeblood of the Fair, totaled a record $129,120,” he said. “These are the funds paid to schools, churches and services organizations, which are in turn funneled back into the community.”
Last year, donations to organizations totaled about $101,000.
Supplies and services purchased through local businesses totaled just over $555,514, which is up from $500,857 last year. This total includes salaries for Chamber staff, park personnel, cleanup, guards and data entry services.
The Blue Ribbon Auction, which continues to be an amazing event every year, Brune said, brought in receipts in excess of $306,433.
Last year the livestock auction, which includes market steers, hogs, lambs and milk, had receipts of about $334,694. The record is $419,854.25, set in 2007.
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.
“Summer’s Last Blast was indeed a success,” Brune said. “At a time when many fairs and festivals are being forced to cut back or even close, our event continues to be strong because of your support — and we can’t thank you enough.”
Brune, speaking on behalf of Behr, said the Chamber and Fair Board judge success of the Fair in several ways.
“Of course, one way we do this is by using the financial data and receipts which are funneled back into the community,” he said.
But, first and foremost, he said, is the continued safety of participants and fairgoers.
“Through the board, the city of Washington, fire, police and ambulance, we work hard to provide a safe and enjoyable environment,” Brune said. “While it’s obvious we cannot control the weather, we can prepare for such situations and we are confident that we will continue to be prepared.”
Another way to measure success, Brune said, is by the response of volunteers and fairgoers.
“The board is always looking to improve the Fair experience while keeping in mind the workload of the volunteer base,” he said.
Many improvements have been to the grounds, infrastructure and overall entertainment value, said Brune, adding the new midway company this year was very well received.
Volunteers Make It Happen
Brune said Behr really wanted to stress the importance of volunteers.
To bring a little perspective to the magnitude of the number of volunteers it takes to put on the five-day Fair, the board attempted to add up all of the volunteer hours from the Fair Board and all organizations that man the gates, sell food, weigh livestock, judge exhibits and those who clean the grounds every morning.
“The math from all of our ‘recorded’ time — and we may have missed a few — shows the Fair takes over 37,000 man-hours,” Brune said. “This is the equivalent to more than 17 full-time employees for a year.
“That is amazing,” he added.
Brune thanked the Fair Board, Chamber staff, city, emergency services and all of the volunteers for making the 2013 Fair the success it was.
Fair Board members for 2014 also were introduced by Irma Wehmeyer, who will serve as co-chair for the upcoming Fair.