Rain, heat hamper Cecil County Fair attendance
— A protracted heat wave marked by high humidity and some rain, quite heavy at times, bedeviled the nine-daylong 2016 Cecil County Fair.
Attendance was down 32 percent from the figure recorded during last year’s fair, which drew close to the same crowd as the 2014 event, according to Al Miller, president of the Cecil County Fair Board of Directors.
But it’s all relative, he emphasized.
“It sounds horrible but, when you consider that we had two really good, in fact, really super years at the fair in 2015 and 2014, down 32 percent (in attendance) this year really isn’t as bad as it sounds,” Miller explained.
On Sunday, the last day of the event, Miller reported that approximately 52,000 people total attended the fair this year compared to 78,000 in 2015. The admission fee was $5 for adults, while tickets for senior citizens and children were discounted. With official totals still pending, Miller did not have the final figure for how much revenue this year’s fair generated.
The fair started on July 22, which, as it turned out, also was the first day of a heat wave in Cecil County and the region. Temperatures remained in the 90s
through Saturday, some eight days later, while the high temp on Sunday was in the upper 80s. On July 25, the fourth day of the fair, the temperature in Cecil County rose above 100.
It is believed that such hot, muggy air hampered daytime attendance at the fair, possibly because people opted instead to remain inside air-conditioned homes or to visit swimming pools, beaches, cinema centers and other cooler places.
Then there was the precipitation.
“We had four days of rain,” Miller said, listing that “hard rain” struck at times on July 23, July 25, Thursday night and again on Saturday, when there were torrential downpours in some spots in Cecil County in the afternoon and steady rain in the evening.
But even so, as the rain fell Saturday night, the grandstands remained packed during the demolition derby – a testament to the grittiness of the fans and the popularity of the derby.
“The good Lord took care of us,” Miller said, adding, “I couldn’t believe that the main grandstands were packed and the other bleachers were about one-third full. I would say there was about 2,500 people watching the demolition derby in the steady rain.”
Overall, according to Miller, he and his fellow fair planners are counting their blessings, knowing people cannot change the weather.
“Friday was a wonderful crowd. We had some good turnouts during the week,” Miller said, before reiterating that, compared to the two previous “super” years, the attendance was only down 32 percent this year.
Rain and heat hurt attendance at the 63rd annual Cecil County Fair, which closed on Sunday.