Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 8:59 am | Overcast 66º


2017 County Fair Shows More-Than-Fair Increase in Attendance

The 2017 Santa Barbara County Fair is a wrap and fair officials are reporting that a combination of special attractions, carnival rides, the concert lineup and great weather contributed to a 6.6 per cent increase in event attendance over 2016.

There were 9,854 more visits to the fair this year, adding up to a grand total of 158,652 visits.

Along with greater attendance, carnival ridership during the five-day run went up 9 percent, while food-and-beverage sales showed significant growth as well, with preliminary numbers indicating an increase of about 6 percent.

Junior livestock auction sales information is not yet available.

“We’re thrilled with the results of the 2017 Fair," said Richard Persons, Santa Maria Fairpark CEO. "It indicates the community appreciates what a great value the fair is, with strong entertainment, great food, fun rides, lots of animals, and great weather.

"The strong showing at the gate tells us that we put together the right combination of promotions and attractions to interest people, even with two large wildfires to compete with,” he said.

Ticket promotions for the 2017 fair included discounts of 20-40 percent on single-day admission and season tickets purchased in advance, along with an all-day ride wristband sold in advance for a 28 percent discount.

Promotional days during the event included a $1 admission on Thursday for those age 62 and older, and a free admission on Saturday for active duty members of the armed forces.

Attractions for 2017 included four nights of main stream musical and comedy acts presented in the Bud Light Concert Series on the KCOY main Stage, with .38 Special, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, John Michael Montgomery and Leann Rimes all appearing.

Fair officials consider the Iglesias show to be the largest crowd ever drawn to a main-stage act at the Santa Barbara County Fair, with a crowd estimated at 8,500 people.

To accommodate the large numbers, a video wall was placed on the Sun Center Stage so people arriving late could still see the show from a good vantage point.

Persons said, “We added chairs for this show, and had about $10,000 in additional expenses for the night with the chairs and the video wall, but it was worth it so that our community could see one of the hottest acts in the world right now for just the price of an admission ticket.”

Other attractions on the Sun Center Stage included Central Coast crowd favorites Steppin’ Out, Burning James and the Funky Flames, and Ricky Montijo and the Mojitos.

The fair presented full exhibit halls including nearly 5,000 competitive exhibits with blue-ribbon winners in many hundreds of categories, and about 2,000 head of livestock.

The Rabobank Discovery Pavilion featured Bug-Ology, an interactive educational exhibit all about insects in the Armory Building, while the Ag Pavilion moved to the Park Plaza building.

A full complement of slicers and dicers competed with beds, skin-care products, fancy knife sets and other wares inside the Marketplace Pavilion presented by Honda and Toyota of Santa Maria.

The Marketplace Pavilion also had the new CoastHills wine bar feature, where fairgoers could get a glass of wine and listen to acoustic guitar from a variety of local musicians.

Strolling acts could be found throughout the event making free mini-shows available at all hours. They included Sterling the Bubblesmith, who created clouds of soap bubbles for children to play in, and two princesses providing photo opportunities.

For more information about the Santa Maria Fairpark, visit

— Shelly Cone for Santa Maria Fairpark.


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