CLEARFIELD – The 158th annual Clearfield County Fair was a success in drawing crowds, despite inclement weather.
According to Greg Hallstrom, fair manager, the fair was definitely a success for the fair board. “Considering the weather, this is one of the best fairs that we have had in many years. Our attendance was actually up from last year.”
He said that the fair saw about 121,000 people go through the gates this year.
“We had people come in (from) as far out as California … we had people come in from Canada and a lot of these people, when they call us, they say they’ve heard it from a friend that’s been here and they cannot believe the value that they get.”
Hallstrom said that the fair board attributes much of the attendance to the strong interest in the shows that the fair hosts, and that having the right shows has people buying tickets to the fair.
“They came through … and we had the right shows… (and) people bought the tickets,” he said.
Though the fair had a strong roster of shows lined up, the rainy weather during fair week almost caused a parking disaster. Hallstrom said, “The weather was just … devastating on us, with the parking lots.”
The rain filling up the parking lots could have been a much bigger issue for the fair board, but Hallstrom said that some of the businesses in the area were able to help out just in time.
“I made one phone call and a caravan of tri-axles started bringing us stone … no questions asked … They said whatever we can do to help,” he said.
According to Hallstrom, on Wednesday during the fair, they spent probably close to seven hours working on the parking lot, knowing that they had a sold-out show later on and needed to be able to get as many people into the parking area as possible.
He said it was nice because it wasn’t just one business helping out, but several that came together and came within 30 minutes of his call, bringing stone to help salvage the parking situation.
With this year’s problems behind them, and a successful attendance rate under their belts, the fair board is already planning ahead for next year.
“We’re gonna work just as normal. We’re already working on acts for next year’s fair,” he said.
In particular, Hallstrom is excited about the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs Convention in January. He’s hosting a roundtable discussion called, “What’s new at your fair?”
The discussion will focus on keeping existing fair patrons and gaining new fair patrons in the future. The members from various fair boards will look at what other fairs do across the state and see if their local fair can benefit from trying some of those things that the other fairs have done.
“One fair might do this and one fair might do that. If any of those fit in Clearfield, you know, we’ll give it a try,” Hallstrom said. “And at the same time, anything that Clearfield’s doing these other fairs may want to try to pick it up and give it a try.”
The convention includes all fairs in the state, and is an event that the Clearfield County Fair board has participated in the past.
As they plan for next year’s fair, Hallstrom is appreciative of support the fair board has received.
“I think myself and the fair board would like to put a big thank you out … to everybody that weathered the storms and waited ‘til they were over and still showed their support of the Clearfield County Fair.”
He feels this support is why the Clearfield County Fair holds on to a No. 4 spot in the state, and notes that other fairs across the state did not have such a lucky season.
His father, David L. Hallstrom, is president of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs (PSACF), and from that, Greg Hallstrom has learned that some of the other fairs in Pennsylvania were not as lucky as Clearfield’s.
“A lot of the fairs had a real bad year. If it wasn’t the rain keeping them out … it was the extreme heat,” he said. He feels that he and his board got “very lucky.”
Though it was a lot of work for them to get the parking lot to a useable state, Hallstrom said, “the rain stopped just in time for us.”
“I literally had my hand on the telephone to consider cancelling the (fair) parade … and it quit raining at five minutes ‘til 6, and I said, ‘let’s go we’re doing it.’ And it turned out to be a really nice night.”