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State Fair experienced increased participation in 2019
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State Fair experienced increased participation in 2019

DOSWELL—The number of competitors, competition entries, rides and hungry and thirsty people at this year’s State Fair of Virginia increased over those of the 2018 fair.

The fair’s 10-day run, from Sept. 27 through Oct. 6, saw more livestock exhibitors and entries; more 4-H and FFA competitors; more culinary arts and horticulture competition entries; and more ride, food and beverage sales.

After an unseasonably hot start to the fair—with temperatures reaching 97 degrees on Oct. 2 and 3—fall weather arrived. “The perfect weather on the second Saturday led to a record crowd,” noted Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director.

Overall attendance is estimated at just under 250,000, which was last year’s highest attendance under the State Fair’s current ownership, and the second-highest since the fair moved to The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County in 2009. The fair had 270,000 in attendance in 2011.

Jolliffe said the fair’s rebranding effort this year celebrated all things Virginia, and 2019 participation increases indicate that the public is onboard. The new mission is to “nurture, preserve and celebrate the best of Virginia’s culture: past, present and future.”

She explained that “there’s nowhere like Virginia, and no event quite like the State Fair. The State Fair is, first and foremost, a celebration, and there is an incredible bounty of things to celebrate about Virginia. This includes artists, entertainers, craftspeople and generations of farmers who showcase what they raise, create and revere. Bringing all that together each year is what the fair is about.”

The number of livestock exhibitors increased from 1,000 in 2018 to 1,100 in 2019, while livestock competition entries jumped from 3,750 in 2018 to 4,000 in 2019.

Additionally, 4-H and FFA competitors increased from 1,251 in 2018 to 1,575 this year.

The number of entries in preserved goods competitions increased 22%; youth baked goods entries were up 25%; youth crops, 23%; open crops and vegetables, 21%; open honey, 39%; and open plants, 80%. The number of dairy cattle exhibited at the fair increased 41%, and dairy goats were up 8%.

Throughout the fair’s 10-day run, food sales were up 6% over last year, and five of the 10 days experienced record food sales. Four of the days had record ride sales.

“I think people are realizing that the State Fair of Virginia really is a celebration of the state’s best, and a showcase for all the hard work and talents of our residents,” Jolliffe said. “And they know the fair is the best place to have fun and create memories with their families.”

Media: Contact Jolliffe at 804-994-2802 or Sarah Hallett, The Meadow’s marketing director, at 804-994-2859.

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