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Saratoga fair crowds best in nearly 20 years

Saratoga fair crowds best in nearly 20 years

This year's Saratoga County Fair drew about 95,000 patrons, about matching the attendance record set

This year’s Saratoga County Fair drew about 95,000 patrons, about matching the attendance record set nearly 20 years ago, fair officials said Monday.

“To say we’re pleased in an understatement,” said Bill Schwerd, president of the Saratoga County Agricultural Society, which oversees the annual six-day fair.

The 171st edition of the fair, which ended Sunday, benefited from dry and comfortable weather for most of its run, and those who staffed booths said the grounds were packed Friday and Saturday night. In Ballston Spa, traffic backed up in both directions Saturday as people waited to turn onto Prospect Street. Many families with young children could be seen walking the grounds.

Most years, the fair draws around 70,000 to 80,000 visitors, and rain or heat can keep people at home.

In addition to the helpful weather, Schwerd said the fair got billboard ads up earlier than in past years, and got permission to put on big signs on several municipal properties across the county to promote the fair. There were also tie-ins with print and radio media to promote the event.

“[Fair Manager Jeff Townsend] did a tremendous job with partnerships,” Schwerd said.

“People knew about it,” he said. “We’ve said our weakness was that people didn’t know about it.”

The entertainment, free with fair admission, included such crowd favorites as Roseaire’s Racing Pigs (think “Lindsey LoHam,” “Shakin’ Bacon,” and the like), a lumberjack competition show that included a good deal of comedy with skill demonstrations, and a large tank in which a diver swam with nurse sharks. There were also daily and nightly grandstand shows, and live music around the grounds.

“We felt very good about most of the entertainment we had,” Schwerd said.

Food vendors and the Amusements of America midway also did well with the crowds.

“Our vendors have been signing up for 2013 in almost record numbers,” Schwerd said.

The county fairground is used throughout the year. The next big event is the Adirondack Circuit AKC Dog Show Aug. 8-12.

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