Olmsted fair goal: 100,000 people on the 100th year
The funds generated from last year's first free fair will make the 152nd Olmsted County Fair more fun.
Last year's fair both doubled attendance and netted the fair $63,000, said Fair Board President Terry Leary. The previous eight years of fairs hadn't really made any money and attendance had been declining, she said, which is why they made it free.
That money has all been put back into upgrading the fairgrounds, Leary said. The board has installed security cameras around the fair this year to be more proactive in creating a family-friendly and safe environment.
She said they also upgraded electrical systems in the main dairy barn and Miracle of Birth Center, painted several buildings, replaced half the furniture in the Beer Garden and brought a balcony that was unused for 18 years in Floral Hall up to code.
Leary said all the profits are used to benefit the fairgrounds and put together a better fair for next year. Their goal is to replace the bathrooms behind the Beer Garden and the fence around the grandstand with this year's funds.
"You come and see us and the money goes right back into the grounds in improvements," Leary said.
It's the 100th year the Olmsted County Fair has been at this site so there will be historical displays set up in the Fair Office Building and the Floral Hall balcony.
There will also be entertainment in the grandstand for the first time in years, exhibitions, carnival rides and food. Leary said more than 100 vendors are available and all the livestock barns are full.
But the hot weather could affect attendance if it's hotter than 95 degrees out. Leary said other fairs have told her that the steamy climate is thinning out crowds.
Still, the goal is to reach 100,000 attendees this year, Leary said. An estimated 70,000 came to last year's fair.
"We want to encourage people in the city to come out and learn about what farming is all about," she said.