Report: 2015 GarCo Fair sees record attendance
A report on the 77th annual Garfield County Fair validates, if not exceeds, preliminary claims by fair officials who stated the event was a success.
The 2015 fair set new records for ticket revenue, attendance and sponsorships, according to the report, which was released in early December.
Total donations from sponsors came in at $121,328, a 33 percent increase from 2014. Ticket sales for events also exceeded the previous year with $121,795 in 2015 compared to $93,980 in 2014. The spike in ticket sales was largely due to the Friday concert by Gary Allan, which was “the most successful concert to date at the fair,” according to the report.
“The concert just really stepped it up to a much higher level of talent,” said Doreen Herriott, Garfield County Fair and events coordinator.
Additional planning led to the creation of premium seating, which was a response to complaints about a lack of up-close seating options in previous years. People would bring lawn chairs and try to sit up front, only to have others stand in front of them and block their view, Herriott explained, adding that the premium seats were the first to sell out.
Total ticket sales for the concert alone came in at $79,055 — more than double the $33,270 collected from the 2014 concert.
“This year’s concert shot our fair into the national concert arena,” according to the report, which also states that “Gary Allan and his entourage were very impressed with the work of our concert committee and sponsors.”
It is rare, Herriott stated, to see that big of a name in such an “intimate setting,” especially on the Western Slope. Herriott is currently in negotiations with another “big name” for the 2016 fair. She hopes to make an announcement in February, and although she could not say who the act is, she did mention that it would not make sense to draw a musician like Gary Allan one year and then bring in a lesser known act the next.
“We want to have somebody who attracts the people,” she said.
Not to be outdone, the 2015 demolition derby also broke previous attendance records with 1,847 tickets generating $25,320, compared to 1,727 tickets sold and $23,250 in revenue in 2014. The derby continues to be the most well-attended event at the fair, and possibly the only one that turns a profit, Herriott said.
For that reason, Herriott is exploring the possibility of adding a monster-truck event in the 2016 fair.
There’s clearly a demand for that style of entertainment, she said, but right now that is in the research stage.
Overall, the fair, which continues to see growth year after year, wouldn’t be possible without the teamwork throughout the community and the shared vision for the event.
“Our focus is now on entertainment,” Herriott said, “good family entertainment that celebrates the Western heritage.”
The 2016 Garfield County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 1-6.
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Carnival rides, best beard competitions, live music and so much more kick-off in Rifle this weekend.