Even though the rides and booths at the Blount County Fair seem to appear overnight, the 22 groups that help organize the event prepare months in advance.
Representatives from 14 of the 22 organizations were on hand Monday evening to discuss the details of the 59th annual fair coming September 18-22.
“We want this to be the place to be,” said Keith Hamby, executive director of the Blount County-Oneonta Agribusiness center. “If you miss the Blount County Fair, you miss out.”Hamby led the discussion and began with a diagram representing the “3 factors for a successful fair” which included, the fair committee, great weather, and Kissel Entertainment – which will be staging the fair for the sixth time.
Hamby emphasized the great need for the fair committee, considering he and administrative assistant Joan Epps are the ones who manage the center on a day-to-day basis.
“Joan and I can’t do it by ourselves so we go ask specific groups to send representatives,” he said. “You are that group.”
Hamby said he is aware that no one can realistically predict if great weather will occur during that September week, but he referenced the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” which calls for sunny weather with a chance of thunderstorms. The precipitation level is supposed to be 2 inches below average for September.
Hamby played up the professionalism and cleanliness of Kissel Entertainment stating they set the standard for fair providers and he views them as a partner of the committee.
Approximately 100 employees work for Kissel and all are drug tested.
The prices of admission will remain at $10 for Tuesday and Wednesday and $12 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Hamby discussed the notion of returning to the payment process of 2009 where admission was $5 and armbands for rides were $18. He, as well as the committee, didn’t like the previous prices considering a family of four would end up paying $92 versus the $48 they would pay with the current rates. “ I would rather have more people experiencing the Blount County Fair rather than having fewer people with more money,” Hamby said.
A few discussion points during the meeting included adding two more small ticket booths, creating a bigger space for the information desk, and trying to increase school involvement through a possible “school spirit night.”
Only 22 counties in the state have a county fair. Hamby said the expectant number of fair attendees this year would average 17,000, but he would hope to see upward of 22,000.
Monday was the first of three meetings the fair committee will have this year. The next two meetings will be Aug. 6 and Aug. 27.
“Everyone around this table has a memory of the fair,” Hamby said. “The fair is about having everything good about Blount County under one roof.”