People watch 38 Special perform

A sea of people gathers Aug. 5 for 38 Special's performance at the Washington Town & Country Fair.

If fairgoers thought it seemed like the Washington Town & Country Fairgrounds were filled with more people this year than in previous years, they weren’t imagining things, according to Washington Town & Country Fair Board Chairman Jon Ballmann. 

The fair reported more than 20,000 people have entered through the ticket gates during the first two days of the fair. On Thursday alone, more than 11,200 people came to the fair — an increase of 2,000 people compared with attendance figures from the 2019 fair. 

“I think everyone is just very excited to be here,” said Ballmann, who added that attendance “is exceeding expectations” after much of the 2020 fair was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Not being able to be here together for two years, I think, has just revived everyone’s energy,” he said.

During the opening ceremonies of the fair, Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said the annual event “embodies the best parts of summer — the food, the people and the energy.” 

Ballmann credited the weather, which has hovered in the mid-to-upper 70s and low 80s for much of the fair, as helping contribute to the strong attendance numbers. 

“When you have weather like this, people just want to be at the fair,” Ballmann said.    

The five-day fair, which is now in its 91st year, concludes on Sunday evening with a performance by country music singer Adam Doleac and a fireworks display. 

Other highlights of the fair include Friday night’s tractor pull and Saturday night’s performance from ZZ Top. The classic rock band’s performance in Washington will be one of its first performances following the sudden passing of longtime bass guitarist Dusty Hill. Ballmann said based on preseason and one-day ticket sales purchased online, crowds should be sizable Saturday. 

“Everything seems to indicate that we could see big crowds here Saturday. Fans know that they (ZZ Top) are probably nearing the end of their career, and this may be one of the last opportunities to see them perform live,” Ballmann said. 

“I don’t think the passing of Dusty Hill has hurt us,” he said. “We have received a lot of press coverage about the band’s show here. I think we will see a great show with a great crowd.”