Sue Kiesewetter reports:
The Warren County Fair may be one day shorter this year when it opens Tuesday for a five-day run, but organizers say fairgoers shouldn’t see many changes.
“We’re just trying to save a little bit of money and pack all the fun into five days,’’ said Tari Maddox, fair secretary.
Like last year, more than 1,000 children and teens are participating in the Junior Fair through their 4-H clubs. New this year is the addition of wood carvers who will do four shows each day.
Tuesday’s 7 p.m. parade features more than 75 groups following the Lebanon High School marching band around the track. As marchers circle the track, 10 hot air balloons will launch from the infield, Maddox said.
This year’s shortened schedule is part of a plan to reduce expenses after county officials last October gave the Warren County Agricultural Society $50,000 for operating expenses and other costs.
That money came with a stern warning: be more prudent financially, racing is leaving.
“The entire model has to change and be more self-sustaining,’’ said Warren County Commissioner David Young.
The society manages the county-owned fairgrounds – where the Lebanon Raceway is located – and runs the fair. It receives a portion of racing revenue.
Officials blame last year’s poor attendance on the extreme heat during fair week. That, combined with fewer races generating less dollars, led to reduced revenue.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed. We’re hoping for a week of low humidity, even if it’s in the high 80’s,’’ said Ron Hurtt, president of the agriculture society’s board. “We’ll just have to see what Mother Nature gives us.”
Besides cutting one day out of the fair schedule – typically Monday and Tuesday are the least attended days – other measures are being done to reduce expenses.
The fair book won’t be printed or mailed; instead it will be published only online, saving about $6,000 in printing and mailing expenses, Hurtt said. There will be fewer days of judging, one less act booked and fair directors didn’t attend this year’s fair convention in Columbus and will get few perks Hurtt said.
Together, the changes and reduced days are expected to cut fair expenses by more than $25,000.