Georgia National Fair grosses record $5.3 million

awoolen@macon.comNovember 13, 2013 

Monkey_Show

Kevin Keith gets a hug from a performing baboon during the Wild About Monkeys show at the 2013 Georgia National Fair in Perry.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP — gblankenship@macon.com Buy Photo

PERRY -- The 2013 Georgia National Fair was the highest grossing fair with total revenue of nearly $5.3 million.

Fair revenue was up by $621,200 over last year, or 13.3 percent, Ronald Goldsby, chief administrative officer and comptroller for the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, said at the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority board meeting Wednesday.

The fair’s net profit, after expenses, was $2.4 million, with a net margin of 82.7 percent.

Goldsby called it a “financial windfall” for this year’s fair, which ran Oct. 3-13 and saw a total attendance of 449,985, an increase of 4,590 from last year.

With record attendance days on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10, the fair also had record midway revenue for five days of the 11-day run.

On Oct. 8, there were 16,033 paid visitors with gate admissions of $128,136, and Oct. 10 saw 16,712 fairgoers and $161,919 in revenue.

The Oct. 8 date had reduced admission and a free concert. Regular gate admission prices increased by $2 this year to $10.

Paid gate admissions, midway ride ticket sales, sponsorships, midway footage and the Agri-Lift all saw record revenues. Reithoffer Shows, which runs midway rides and attractions, pays the fairgrounds for “midway footage,” the amount of square footage it uses on the midway.

Reithoffer Shows also had its highest grossing midway revenues, surpassing $3 million for the first time.

Overall reports from the various departments came back positive.

Sixteen more counties than last year attended the fair, along with 5,000 more students, according to Teresa Hawk, sponsorships and special programs director at the fairgrounds.

The Georgia Grown building -- which sold Georgia products such as jams, jellies and barbecue -- tripled its sales to $56,000.

Bag searches, which were new this year, went well at the gates, said Stephen Shimp, public safety director for the fairgrounds.

“People were so thankful we were rifling through their bags,” he said.

At her last board meeting before retirement, Michele Treptow, director of communications at the fairgrounds, announced the fair won seven awards this year from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, bringing the fair’s total number of awards from the group to 100.

The livestock shows had 8,129 entries, which were up 543 from last year, said Jim Floyd, agriculture and youth director at the fairgrounds.

Also at the meeting, the board unanimously upheld a ruling against a student from Cairo High School.

The freshman was showing a market hog, and the animal tested positive for flunixin, a banned substance, during a random drug test. In the event of such a violation, an exhibitor is prohibited from competing at future livestock competitions at the Georgia National Junior Livestock Show and the Georgia National Fair for one year, according to the rule book.

The student’s lawyer, Thomas Lehman, told the board the parents took the animal to the veterinarian because it was stressed during travel. He said the parents did not realize the substance was banned.

State veterinarian Robert Cobb was present for the ruling along with Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

“This authority absolutely follows the rule,” Black said. “Everybody’s got to learn.”

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