Despite rain, state fair 2022 among most successful ever

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Despite rain, state fair 2022 among most successful ever
The morning sun rises on the grounds of the state fair at Fairlea, West Virginia. (Photo courtesy State Fair of West Virginia)

FAIRLEA, W.Va. — The State Fair of West Virginia reported more than 170,000 people attending, an exceptional attendance despite rains that fell across the Mountain State in August.

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State Fair CEO Kelly Collins said that the economic impact of the annual event was high. Fairgoer spending on food grossed more than $3.5 million, and Reithoffer Shows, the carnival provider, set an all-time fair record for ride gross sales at just under $1.2 million.

"Despite a few days of heavy rain, we ended up having one of the best fairs we've ever had," she said. "The number of people that came through the gates aside, the true success can be seen in the community and economic impact of this event."

According to Collins, some of the most notable statistics include the following.

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  • More than 1,600 pounds of food were raised during First Energy's Magic Monday, which was split between five food pantries.
  • The fair hosted its inaugural Big Wheel Bash as a fundraiser for the endowment and scholarship funds and raised more than $20,000. Each year, $20,000 is given to scholarships for students from West Virginia to attend accredited schools or trade programs.
  • Exhibitions included 7,500 home, arts, and garden exhibits displayed in the West Virginia Building from more than 700 exhibitors. More than 350 open livestock exhibitors participated. More than 370 junior 4-H and Future Farmers of America livestock exhibitors showed animals, while more than 4,500 4-H and Future Farmers of America non-livestock exhibits were displayed in the Underwood Youth Center.
  • $36,000 was paid to civic organizations and school programs for services during the fair. Some programs and services included car parking by the Greenbrier East Music Boosters, trash pickup by  Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, rabbit barn attendance by James Monroe Future Farmers of America, and concert beer sales by the Shriners
  • The fair hired more than 210 part-time employees for the 10-day event, not including part-time help for the food vendors, the carnival, and other concessionaires. The payroll for the period will top $250,000.
  • The Grandstand attracted more than 29,000 fairgoers to eight different shows throughout the week, while overall attendance totaled more than 170,000 guests.
  • 13 million social media impressions were generated, and 732,566 user engagements by a global audience
  • The fair pays more than $75,000 in property taxes yearly. It collects more than $120,000 in sales tax annually, not including taxes on food or carnival sales collected by individual vendors or businesses.

Collins reminds state residents and visitors that the fair is about celebrating the agriculture of West Virginia, though economic benefits to the state are valuable.

"Outside of the number of fairgoers coming through the gates, it is important for us to look at the entire picture to judge the true success of the fair," she said.

"State fairs were started to tell the story of agriculture, but to also spur commerce in the local community—two missions we still hold true."

The 98th Annual State Fair is August 10-19, 2023.  For more information, visit StateFairofWV.com.

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