Shows sell out; vendors suffer

CANFIELD -- Grandstand attractions set an all-time record, but fairgoers weren't as free with their cash when it came to midway vendors at the 2002 Canfield Fair.
Three of the six grandstand shows -- the truck and tractor pull Saturday night, the Journey-Peter Frampton concert Sunday night, and the Kenny Chesney concert Monday night -- sold out, and the house was packed for the demolition derby Thursday.
"We've never had back-to-back shows sell out before, never in my time," said Bob Rose. A fair board director for 47 years, Rose oversees the grandstand and special attractions.
About 9,500 tickets were sold for each of the concerts -- 5,500 in the grandstand and 4,000 on the track -- and 7,161 for the truck and tractor pull.
Seat configurations change to accommodate each show.
Big crowds
Despite the crowds that converged on the fairgrounds, including about 500 riders who turned out for the fair's first motorcycle show Friday evening -- 325 made it to the grandstand concourse, 200 more were displayed in a parking area -- sales were down for sausage and T-shirt vendors, and those peddling everything else under the sun.
"This is probably the worst year I've had," said Linda Butko of Naples, Fla.
Butko has sold T-shirts and hats in the same spot at the Canfield Fair for five years.
She estimates her sales are down 25 percent. They also were down at the Columbiana County Fair, she said. "I wish I knew why. Everybody tells me it's the economy. At the Columbiana County Fair, I think sales might have been down because of the heat," Butko said.
"It's been like this all summer," lamented Debbie Rimar, who has sold DiRusso's sausage at fairs the past 15 years.
DiRusso's operates nine stands at the Canfield Fair, and Rimar said sales have been down at every one.
"Nobody's spending money this year because of the economy," she reasoned.
Sales also were down at the Sugar Shack, which sells apple dumplings, iced tea, cider, coffee and pop.
The first two days, sales were up. But then they dropped off and didn't recover, said Linda Dinsio, whose son, Dave, of Salem, owns the business.
The Sugar Shack has been at the Canfield Fair eight or nine years, Dinsio said.
Some good news
The only vendor polled by The Vindicator that saw an increase in sales was Cobblestone Corner. The Boardman business specializes in concrete lawn ornaments.
"Sales this year are a lot better than last year, almost double," said Buddy Landsberger, a foreman for the company.
This was Cobblestone Corner's second year at the fair and fifth year in business, Landsberger said.
He attributes the double-digit increase to fairgoers' awareness of the business and the greater variety of merchandise at his display.
The exposure last year, he added, helped boost overall sales about 30 percent for the year. "People found out about us, picked up our business card, and learned where we're at," he said.
The fair board already has held its first planning meeting for the 2003 fair. The only decision thus far: The Robinson Family Singers will return.

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