The Fulton County Fair Board has reported total attendance figures of more than a quarter-million people, 11 out of the last 13 years.
In 2013 and 2014, attendance topped 290,000.
The figures dwarf numbers reported by the Defi- ance, Williams, and Henry county fairs.
Denise Sutter, treasurer of the Defiance County Fair Board, said for this year’s fair, Aug. 16-23, attendance was estimated at 75,000.
But Sutter said that’s an estimate. Actual paid admissions were about 14,000.
Like Fulton County, Sutter said the Defiance County Fair offers free admission on some days for seniors, children, and veterans which aren’t counted in paid admissions.
“Unless you sit there with a clicker (counter) you’re never going to get an accurate count” of attendance, Sutter said.
Marilyn Hershberger, secretary of the Henry County Fair Board, said this year’s seven-day attendance figure was 60,606.
The Henry County Fair was Aug. 8-14.
She said fairgrounds gates there aren’t set up to obtain an accurate count, and that no effort is made to count persons entering the fairgrounds.
And like Fulton and Defiance counties, free attendance is offered to certain groups on certain days. Formula
Hershberger said in 2009, the Henry County Fair Board developed a mathematical formula to calculate fair attendance.
The same formula has been used since 2009, so the results are comparable yearto year.
“It’s very unsophisticated,” she said.
“We know the number of season tickets sold, we know the number of daily gate admissions, and we know how many passes are given out.”
Information is plugged into the formula and it produces the attendance figure.
Susan Keesbury, secretary of the Williams County Fair Board, said the sevenday attendance for the fair, held Sept. 6-14, was 35,423.
Keesbury said the figure is “gate attendance,” which includes adult season passes, day and courtesy passes.
The figure does not include those who get in for free on senior citizens day or veterans day.
“There’s no way to count them,” she said.
For the passes, she said an average is taken and incorporated into a formula.
She said Williams County Fair attendance is calculated by an accounting firm, which uses “a standard formula.”
Fulton County Fair offi- cials won’t release the method they use to determine daily or seven-day fair attendance.
Lynn Kinsman, Fulton County Fair Board treasurer, said in an article in the Sept. 10 issue of this news- paper he could not reveal how the attendance is determined, but said the method does take into account both daily fair admission and season passes.
There are those who have, for years, questioned the validity of Fulton County’s attendance figures, suggesting the figures are inflated.
The 2014 Fulton County Fair attendance released by the Fair Board was 291,349.
That’s almost four times the Defiance County estimated attendance of 75,000, more than four times Henry County’s 60,606.
It’s more than eight times the Williams County Fair attendance figure of 35,423.
The Fulton County Fair is, by nature, the largest of the fairs in the four-county area.
Held this year from Aug. 29 through Sept. 4, it always covers the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Fulton County is adjacent to Lucas County, and the Fulton County fairgrounds are adjacent to the Wauseon exit on the Ohio Turnpike.
But the question is, how does the Fulton County Fair Board calculate attendance, and are the numbers reliable?
Fairs charge rent to merchants and vendors who set up shop on the fairgrounds during the fair week.
In last week’s issue of this newspaper, Dennis Wyse, Fulton County Fair Board president, said the Fulton County Fair rental price is cheaper than most others.
That claim, however, isn’t true when compared to the Defiance, Henry and Williams county fairs.
The Fulton County Fair merchant and vendor application shows prices for front footage along the midway
(measuring only the distance along the midway walking path itself) ranging from $25 per front foot, with a minimum of $500, for food vendors, to $17 per foot with a $220 minimum for commercial booths.
Electric service is an extra cost.
In Defiance County, a space along the midway is $150 for a 10-foot space, with additional front footage available at $10 per foot.
Space along the outside of the fairgrounds is $90 per- 10-foot-space.
The Henry County rate for space along with midway is $15 per front foot with a 10- foot minimum ($150).
In Williams County, the cost for space along the midway is $12 per front foot with a 10-foot minimum ($120).