Ala. National Fair sees lower returns

Workers pack up after another Alabama National Fair comes to a close.
Workers pack up after another Alabama National Fair comes to a close.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Packing up, pulling up and moving on. Dozens of workers spent the day dismantling rides and tents at the 56th annual Alabama National Fair in north Montgomery.

10 days of fun and games stopped Sunday night as the fair came to a close and it looks like the attendance figures will not break the 2006 record when more than 250,000 people came through.

"It's the weather. People aren't going to come when you have an 80% of rain, even the prediction of rain might keep folks away," said Alabama National Fair General Manager Randy Stephenson.

Stephenson estimates the attendance was down 22% compared to 2008.

Lisa Wray's bar-b-que stand did better than she expected considering this was her first year.

"We had our customers, a good turnout," said Wray.

But not everybody did as well. As a whole food and game vendors saw about a 10 to 15% drop in business over last year.

Randy Stephenson says it's too early to say whether all of this will in fact mean a drop in the funds the fair gives to the 60 charities. The average in recent years has been around $100,000.

For now there is no sign vendors like Wray and Michelle Motley are thinking about skipping next year's Alabama National Fair. The way they look at it, next year is another year. Much like the Ferris wheel that's already packed away at some point Wray and Motley say the economy has to come back up.

"This is our main fundraiser and it's like family to us," said Motley who is the President of the Highland Garden's Men's Club.

When things were really good the fair has given more than $200,000 to those 60 charities. We won't know for sure until January because the fair must undergo its annual audit conducted by local accountants.

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