158th CANFIELD FAIR Sun shines on 2004 installment

Officials said 388,110 people passed through the gates this year.
CANFIELD -- The weather was good. Attendance was up, and the board of directors is happy.
"We've had a fantastic fair; that's mostly because of the weather," said George F. Less, president of the fair board.
"Last year was a rain-out," Less said, and as a result receipts were down, leaving little money in the coffers for improvements. One road in the parking area was paved, he said, and there were some improvements in the drainage system, but funds weren't available for anything else.
Hopefully, receipts will be up this year so there will be more money to work with -- money for special projects and ongoing improvements, he said.
Ordinarily, the fair board spends at least $300,000 a year on improvements, he continued. Less said that next year he'd like to see some of that spent to install drain tile and expand the parking area at the east end of the fairgrounds.
Attendance was up almost every day this year and by Sunday evening, 315,809 fairgoers had passed through the gates. Last year, total attendance for all six days was 309,970, compared with a total of 388,110 this year.
At least two of the grandstand shows sold out this year, including between 200 and 300 standing-room-only tickets for the demolition derby Friday night.
"This has been our best year ever," said Gary Bates of Bates Inc., which provides about half of the fair's amusement rides.
His brother, Eric Bates, of Bates Brothers Amusement Co., provided the other half.
As of Monday morning, Gary Bates said sales of arm bands and ride tickets were up an estimated 30 percent over last year. "But last year was a bad year," he clarified. Even so, he said, "this is the biggest year we've had."
Bates Brothers brought two new rides to the fair this year, a Street Racer sports car ride in Kiddie Land, and the Mega Bounce circular air-bounce ride on the midway.

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