Attendance down at this year's district fair

Monday, September 21, 2009
Arena Park fills up with SEMO District Fair crowds Wednesday as seen from Lowery Carnival's Expo Wheel in Cape Girardeau. (Kit Doyle)

This year's SEMO District Fair might have drawn a crowd equal to or bigger than last year had the weather held out on the last day.

About 102,000 people attended the eight-day fair, fair spokesman Pete Poe said Sunday, about 1,900 fewer than in 2008.

"We were pleased with the results despite the weather," Poe said.

The final grandstand performance of the fair, Saturday night's show by country singer John Michael Montgomery, drew a nice crowd in spite of the rainy, overcast skies duirng the day, Poe said.

At last year's fair, the crowd of 103,901 was up 7 percent from 2007 attendence numbers, and fair organizers hoped the trend would continue this year in spite of the failing economy.

Poe said other fairs and festivals had boasted high attendence numbers this year, perhaps because people were trying to save money by staying closer to home and visiting relatively inexpensive attractions.

"We were very pleased with last year's results, and we're not disappointed by this year's," Poe said.

Poe said the fair's on-grounds entertainment, such as the Ultimate Canines and the menagerie exhibitions, seemed to draw a lot of viewers this year.

"We didn't plan the fair around a down economy; we planned it around our fairgoers," Poe said.

This year was the first time the fair featured livestock exhibits all eight days, and Poe said the measure was met with success, not just from fairgoers but from exhibitors.

"We got it done without any issues," he said.

Next year's entertainment will likely feature a diverse group of grandstand performers, Poe said.

Next year, which will be the 155th year of the SEMO District Fair, will also mark the 70th anniversary of the fair's home at Arena Park.

The fair moved to Arena Park in 1939 from Capaha Park, formerly known as Fairgrounds Park.


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