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Local county fairs see bigger crowds and revenues after a year away

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Erin Gottsacker
/
WXPR
A row of games light up at the Forest County Fair.

Kids fly by on whirling-twirling rides. Light-up booths advertise lemonade and funnel cakes. Blue ribbons adorn displays of fresh produce and flower arrangements.

After a year without visitors, local county fairgrounds bustled with activity this summer, bringing in more people and more money than in recent years past.

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Erin Gottsacker
Stuffed animal prizes hang above a game at the 2021 Forest County Fair.

From the Oneida County fair to the Langlade County fair, fair coordinators across the area say people turned out to the fairgrounds in droves this year.

“The demolition derby we actually sold out. We had to turn people away,” says Rhonda Klement, the Langlade County Fair Coordinator.

The Oneida County Fair also drew in crowds.

Tom Barnett, the Oneida County Fair Coordinator, said 15,000 people attended the fair this year.

That’s several thousand more people than in years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

On top of that, the fair’s profits doubled what it normally makes, which Barnett says will make for an even better fair next year.

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Erin Gottsacker
A group of three buys snacks at the 2021 Forest County Fair.

Barnett and Klement think there is a simple explanation for high attendance – people were bored of the pandemic and wanted to do something fun.

“They took advantage of the fair,” Klement says. “They could do listen to music, they could ride the rides, they could see some grand stand shows, they could just be social and be outside, and I think they just took advantage of it.”

But for many, the county fair is more than a day of entertainment.

“It’s having that in our community,” Klement says. “A place for the people of our county to go and be social and have that heritage and that history.”

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