The 2005 L.A. County Fair has been put to bed for another year. While highlights were many, the near perfect weather that graced the 83rd anniversary of the largest county fair in the nation was at the top of the list. The Fair, Sept. 9 through Oct. 2, was kissed by average temperatures of 82 degrees. The single day of inclement weather came on a Tuesday, when the Fair was closed and horse racing was dark. Crowds were treated to 15 nights of grandstand entertainment as part of the End of Summer Concert Series, presented by Toyota, and attendance and concert ticket sales were at an all-time high. The 66th season of horse racing enjoyed a record-shattering handle of $113,833,021, exceeding its previous high in 2003 of $109,249,303. The Fairplex Park Budweiser Grandstand hosted 16 days of racing excitement, with a new twist of Tuesdays dark.
Sunny skies prevailed. Fair attendance reached 1,328,105, up from the 2004 figure of 1,301,713. Officials report that revenues showed a healthy increase in every area of the Fair. The Ray Cammack Shows carnival, which returned for its 21st year, had a 20 percent increase over its run in 2004. Fairguests love their Fair food, as reflected by a 12 percent increase in gross sales for the Fair’s food and beverage department; commercial sales reported independent, novelty and commercial sales all showed a marked increase over 2004, and nearly 100 applicants have already booked space for the 2006 Fair.
Fair officials modified the schedule for this year’s event, closing on Mondays and Tuesdays, and adding an additional weekend. The eight weekend days helped with the distribution of traffic and crowds, translating to shorter lines, quicker service and more positive response from guests.
According to polls conducted during the Fair, customers indicated high overall satisfaction and enjoyment with this year’s event. And, the Fair was visited by a substantial number of new visitors this year.
Admission on opening day, Sept. 9, was just $1; Senior Days were each Wednesday and College Days were observed on Thursdays, each offering $5 admission. The FairKids Discovery Club hosted more than 95,000 youngsters free of charge from Southern California elementary and middle schools for a day of learning and fun. Wednesdays and Thursdays again offered $5 admission after 5 p.m. Cingular Wireless Stores, PFF Bank & Trust and Ralphs Grocery Company offered discount programs.
The last time the Fair was an 18-day event was in 2000, then switching to 17 days until this year. Since weekends are still the most popular time to play, guests were enticed to visit by making the Fair more accessible. While there have been 24-day Fairs in the past, allowing for closure on Mondays and Tuesdays was new. Those are days that have traditionally been slower Fair days and closing allowed a breather for all involved.
Dale Coleman, vice president of sales, marketing and creative programming said, “We are pleased with overall results of the changes that were implemented. Two days off during the week provided employees, suppliers and vendors time to refresh and reload. We feel this schedule gives us a strong platform to build on for future events.”
The L.A. County Fair ranks an impressive fourth among all fairs and festivals in North America in terms of attendance. However, in terms of programming, presentation, cleanliness, customer service and deliverables to an average 1.3 million guests each year, it stands alone.
For more information, visit the Web site at www.lacountyfair.com. Tentative dates for 2006 are Sept. 8 through Oct. 1.