Fair draws record attendance

The Grays Harbor County Fair broke attendance records this year, with 65,641 fairgoers attending over the course of five days — about 2,500 more people than last year.

Mike Bruner, manager of Grays Harbor Fairgrounds and Tourism, said the attendance spike was largely the result of decent weather, good marketing and a focus on Saturday entertainment.

“Saturday has historically been by far the most heavily attended day, and we try to make it a great value,” Bruner said. “And I think the weather saved us. That’s the one factor we can’t control.”

Saturday’s attendance set a single-day record, with a crowd of 21,674 people. In 2012, only 20,205 people attended on Saturday. Bruner attributed the increase to the caliber of entertainment included with admission. Fairgoers could watch the Redneck Olympics, car races at Grays Harbor Raceway and Arch Allies, a tribute band, for no additional cost.

The focus on entertainment was constant throughout the fair, with Clay Walker performing Wednesday, Johnny Cash tribute singer Dan Whyms performing Thursday and local band Humptulips performing Friday.

Food vendors reported record sales, as did Davis Carnival, the company that operates the carnival rides and midway games. Bruner said the company made $10,000 more this year than they did in 2012.

“There were a lot of people having a lot of fun out there,” Bruner said. “We literally had cars parked almost to the on-ramp.”

Bruner said this year’s success will push fair employees and volunteers to improve the event even more next year. He’s not sure what will change — but over the next few months, he’ll check his notes about what worked and what didn’t for next year. But fairgoers shouldn’t worry that their favorite events will disappear.

“The fair’s about tradition,” Bruner said. “There are things people expect to see. And there’s literally an army of volunteers who are there just because they love the fair. And they make sure these things happen.”