Gearing Up For The State Fair: Will Recession Hurt Or Help?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The fair’s still a week and-a-half away, but Cal Expo’s already bustling with activity. Rides are going up. Exhibits are being built:
Inside one hall, workers are putting together individual county displays. John Vasquez is on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. He’s helping to build his county’s bright yellow farm-themed exhibit:
 “Farmer john’s going to be picking pears and twirling trees and the beehive’s going to have bees buzzing around.”
Organizers hope more than 900-thousand people will show up to check out exhibits like this one. Last year attendance was just under 800-thousand. Brian May is Deputy General Manager of the Fair.   He’s worried about the impact of the recession on attendance.” And since many fair-goers come from the Sacramento region – he’s also unsure what impact state workers’ three monthly furlough days will have:
“It could work to our advantage frankly. There are two furlough days over the 18 days of the fair:Opening day Aug. 21 and then the Friday of Labor Day weekend, so we’re hoping that gives people two additional days to come out to the fair, butwe also realize that state workers are making 15 percent less.”
May says attendance has been declining during the week for the past ten years. He says it’s because many schools now start in August. For that reason, organizers are considering a July State Fair next year. May’s hoping advance discounted tickets, new exhibits like the one featuring a giant mountain of candy and performers like MC Hammer will draw people in. And if those don’t work, there’s always the food:
 “This year it’s the zucchini weenie. For people that have followed the whole deep fired food craze here at Cal Expo, Chicken Charlie’s always been the one who’s led the way and he’s hollowing out zucchini, putting a hot dog in it and deep frying it, so I know that will get a lot of attention and I’m sure thousands of people will want to try it. 
The fair runs from August 21 through September 7.