Ky. State Fair Starts Thursday; Energy Costs Curtain Crowds?

LOUISVILLE, KY -- The 104th edition of the fair begins Thursday and runs through Aug. 24, amid fears the high gasoline prices and resulting increased costs may curtail crowds after low attendance last year.

The Louisville Courier-Journal, in its Sunday edition, reports attendance last year was 589,364, down about 25,000 from the previous year. Fair officials mostly blame hot weather -- highs were in the mid- to upper 90s on five of 11 days. Officials told the newspaper that high gasoline prices then probably contributed too.

Harold Workman, president of the fair board, hopes high energy costs won't cut into attendance this year. While some Kentuckians may stay home because of the price of gasoline, others may want to vacation close to home and view the fair as a relatively inexpensive option, he told the C-J.

This year's fair offers some new twists. The cost of parking is up a dollar, to $6. In addition, the cost of individual ride tickets has gone from $1 to $1.25, with most of the nearly 100 rides requiring three to six tickets.

Mike Williams, CEO of North American Midway Entertainment, the Mississippi-based "thrillway" operator, requested the increase "in light of the tremendous increase in fuel and transportation expenses we are experiencing."

But Workman noted that discounted ride tickets are available at Kroger through Wednesday and on several fair "wristband days."The rides also will start two hours earlier, at 2 p.m., on weekdays, Workman told the newspaper.

Workman considers the fair concert lineup strong, with a mix of music genres on many nights. "We have a good (artist) lineup, and we are doing it a little different," Workman said. He noted, for instance, that ZZ Top is opening for Brooks & Dunn, and Jewel is performing in front of Brad Paisley, the newspaper reports.

Another concession to concert-goers is that the cost of tickets for the four paid concerts at Freedom Hall ranges from $31 to $49; last year tickets for several of the concerts cost $60.

There is a free concert nearly every night -- with the talent including Joan Jett, the Oak Ridge Boys, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Village People and Travis Tritt -- in old Cardinal Stadium, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

Copyright - The Louisville Courier-Journal

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  • by JL Location: Lexington on Aug 10, 2008 at 07:25 PM
    I'll tell you the biggest deterrent to attending ... school will have started in almost every county. It's getting to where there is almost no time off in August, which keeps people from going to the State Fair and other late summer events, which used to be summer traditions in my family.
  • by Zatoichi Location: Richmond on Aug 10, 2008 at 06:30 AM
    Cost of gas..a hindrance. baloney, it's the high cost of tickets and the other costs associated after you arrive. look around, I still see gazillions of SUV's pulling huge boats down I-75. I think the media is trying to scare us all into thinking everyone is staying home and sitting on the front porch rocking chairs. The media is hoping for an Obamanation so they are doing all they can to scare us about the economy.
  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Aug 10, 2008 at 06:24 AM
    Now THERE's a place the state can look to save money in the budget...why do we have a State Fair? The only people who go are those who enter the "largest hog" contest and their friends, and most people who go only go to go table to table and take the free stuff that state government and businesses are giving away. So, with the millions that are already being spent on having the fair, then all the free stuff the govt gives away, they could really make a dent in our budget problem by letting people do their fairs in the counties and not have a State Fair. Oh yeah, don't forget, those artists at the "free" concerts aren't performing for free, they are getting paid out of fair money, so that's another loss.


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