10/07/05 — Weather forces early day for fair

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Weather forces early day for fair

By Turner Walston
Published in News on October 7, 2005 1:56 PM

A normal Thursday evening at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair would have brought 4,000 people through the gates.

Heavy rains this week, brought 425, fair director Milton Ingram said.

Forecasts for more rain are making fair officials think twice about opening this evening, which could mean much lost revenue in the fair's final weekend, officials said.

Ingram said fair employees stopped selling tickets Thursday evening at 7 p.m. Carnival rides stayed open another hour for paid fairgoers, but the midway shut down at 8.

Ingram said midway operator Corky Powers made the call to close rides.

"He made the decision that he could no longer operate safely," Ingram said.

If the fair does not operate Friday and Saturday, Ingram said financial losses would be heavy.

"If we don't operate today and tomorrow, too, it will hurt us immensely. It will take us four or five years to overcome our losses," he said.

Entertainers and other fair employees have not been paid yet, Ingram said.

Money for the carnival comes from ride ticket sales, while the fair's primary source of income is at the gate.

"Our main source of income is the gate revenue, and a percentage of the rides. We rent space to concessionaires," Ingram said. "Those are our sources of income. Anytime you don't operate when you've got as much invested as we've got, it hurts the bottom line."

In his years as director, Ingram said he has accepted that some factors are beyond his control.

"That's a part of it. You have to plan for that, and understand you can't control the weather. Sometimes you're going to have bad weather. We have been extremely fortunate over the years."

Refunds were not offered to fairgoers Thursday night, Ingram said.

"We had some people complain a little bit, but I don't think we had any refunds," he said. "When you come in and it's raining when you come in, you're taking a substantial chance."

Ingram said he and Powers would speak with weather services before making a decision on tonight's festivities. Friday fairgoers should call the fair office at 735-7277 before making the trip, he said.

"Before they decide to leave, I'd call, in case there's no need to come out here," Ingram said. "If there's no answer, then we're probably closed."

A decision about Saturday's events will be made tomorrow, Ingram said.