SEMO Fair attendance up over 2011

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Rides can be seen in this photo from the last day of the 2012 SEMO District Fair. (Laura Simon)

The SEMO District Fair ended last Saturday night, and the removal of its carnival rides and exhibits from Arena Park marked the unofficial end of summer for area residents. But fair board president Pete Poe is happy with this year's edition of the fair that once again brought in tens of thousands of people from across the region.

"I'm very pleased with the results," Poe said. "We took in over 92,000 visitors. With the various economic factors that are out there, and even the rain toward the end of the fair, that's still a 5 percent increase above last year's attendance."

Rains that began Saturday afternoon lasted into the night, likely dampening attendance on the fair's final day.

Attendance numbers are based on paid admission, so one person can be counted multiple times if that person visits on multiple nights.

Poe isn't the only one who is pleased. Justin Medley, general manager of the Drury Lodge and the Pear Tree Inn, reported a rise in the number of guests during fair week.

"We saw a spike in the number of people in our hotels," he said. "We find that it's the entertainers that bring people to us. It seems they get tickets to see a certain performer and don't feel like driving back home the same night. Obviously, we're glad to be of service."

Medley added that with one guest at the Pear Tree Inn, it would've been impossible to have made a quick drive home. "There was a lady who showed up at the desk and said she had come from California to see Gretchen Wilson. We were glad to have her, but she must have been Wilson's biggest fan. It's a long haul from California."

Financial figures are still being processed, but Poe said at a recent Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce meeting the fair was expected to infuse about $1.3 million into local businesses and fair vendors. Poe said at that event that the fair generated about $39,000 in sales tax last year. A number of local charitable and religious organizations will also benefit from the fair by receiving a donation in exchange for their work in manning the entrance gates. According to Poe, $25,000 was donated last year to groups that did so.

The fair board will continue to reinvest money into the city, Poe said, having already spent about $900,000 over the last three years to acquire additional land to expand the Arena Park fairgrounds. Poe also told the chamber of commerce that the fair board is working with the city on a park-improvement plan similar to the one already in progress for Capaha Park, and is also working with fairground-development consultants on the matter.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

Arena Park, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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