Arkansas State Fair to run one day longer in October
Two significant changes will come to the Arkansas State Fair in October: The fair will be one day longer, and the carnival company has changed.
Ralph Shoptaw, the fair’s general manager, on Thursday said the fair will run this year from Oct. 12, a Thursday, through Oct 22 in Little Rock. The fair has been a 10-day event starting on a Friday since 1969, he said. The fair, now in its 78th year, ran six days before 1969.
The new carnival operator is North American Midway Entertainment of Farmland, Ind. The company is commonly known as NAME, said Amy Girton, its director of communication and media relations.
Deggeller Attractions of Stuart, Fla., had been the carnival operator for the previous 22 years, Shoptaw said.
North American Midway Entertainment and the fair have a five-year contract, he said, part of an effort to make the fair “bigger and better.”
The extra day will expand the scope of the fair, he said, and give patrons one more day to enjoy it. The livestock show has opened on Thursdays anyway, he said.
Attendance was down in 2016 from the previous year. In 2016, 450,702 people attended the fair; in 2015, the number was 473,106. Rain affects attendance, Shoptaw said, and the fair had two days of rain last year.
“Attendance is part of the whole plan,” he said. “If we add another day and a bigger, better carnival, we think we can increase our attendance considerably.”
The North American Midway Entertainment is “the largest traveling amusement park in North America,” Girton said at the fairgrounds offices.
One of those events is the Tulsa State Fair, which this year runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 8. The relative proximity of Tulsa to Little Rock will allow the company to get to Little Rock in time for the Arkansas fair.
Darrell Desgranges, the fair’s entertainment director, said Deggeller previously travelled to Little Rock from the Virginia State Fair near Richmond, considerably farther away, a logistical challenge that precluded an extra day in Arkansas. Like the fair in Tulsa, the one in Richmond ends Oct. 8. Girton said North American Midway Entertainment will bring two roller coasters to Arkansas. The Blitzer, she said, “is pretty intense.” The Crazy Mouse is notable for its spinning cars.