Featured, Local News

State fair sets new attendance record

Staff report

The Vermont State Fair in Rutland broke an attendance record for the second year in a row.

Fair President Robert Congdon, Jr. said there was about a 10% jump in attendance from last year’s historic high, when an estimated 40-50,000 people attended the fair.

“Attendance was up every single day but Wednesday,” Congdon said, explaining that that rainy day deterred some people.

By Donna Wilkins

“I refer to it as a renaissance,” he said. “We are working to reinvent ourselves, working to get ourselves in front of the public with newer things.”

The Vermont State Fair is one of the oldest in the nation. This year was its 176th year. Congdon said the fair organizers have worked to rebuild attractions and find a balance between agriculture exhibits and rides. This year, they built a new blacksmith shop to have forging demonstrations, there was a dog dock diving competition, a touch-a-truck event, and a butterfly exhibit. The fair also gave away 60 bikes to kids on children’s day.

The fair has found success since nearly going bankrupt around 2015, when the dates were moved from early September to late August. “We had to go through those pains of losing concessionaires that had been at the fair for a really long time,” Congdon said.

However, pent up demand from Covid-19 lockdown drew extra people out. Attendance jumped 30% last year — the most in the fair’s history.

“We were making progress at the time, but really these last two fairs, we saw an outpouring from the public that we haven’t seen before,” Congdon said.

The fair organizers have also rebuilt the number of food options and vendors. This year there were about 75 vendors at the fair, up from a low of 30. “These past two years have shown us we’ve overcome the obstacles of the date change and we’re really starting to establish ourselves,” Congdon said.

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