Our fair: The little engine that could … | TheUnion.com

Our fair: The little engine that could …

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy the Nevada County Fair, which begins tomorrow at the fairgrounds on the southwest edge of Grass Valley.

Start with the beautiful tree-shaded grounds, toss in the food booths that evoke delicious childhood memories, add the sizzle of the midway rides, then top it off with mix of livestock shows, monster-truck racing and country music, and you have the ultimate in all-American summer fun.

But as reporter George Boardman shows on our Business page today on C1, the fairgrounds with its multiple events is a powerful economic engine that drives the county’s tourism business, service industries, and even the funding for nonprofit organizations.

Boardman’s story mentions some of the most important numbers, but a state report last year, “Striking Gold at the Nevada County Fair,” offers lots of interesting statistics for 2002.

For instance, about 273,000 people visit the fairgrounds annually – in a county with fewer than 100,000 residents. During the county fair, that means the average attendee comes to the fair twice during its five-day run. More than 15 percent of them visit three days or more.

Where are they from? About 90 percent come from within a 100-mile radius (averaging a 46-mile drive).

And they’re an affluent bunch: More than half have a household income above $50,000, and more than a third top $75,000.

As the report notes, fair visitors pay for admissions and parking, carnival rides and games, and food and beverage concessions. They buy souvenirs from exhibitors, and visit area restaurants and hotels.

When you figure in the thousands of folks who flock to the other events at the fairgrounds during a year – Draft Horse Classic, music festivals, swap meets and agriculture shows – visitors spend $21.2 million, create more than 250 jobs, contribute $227,000 in tax revenues, and generate nearly $6 million in personal income for our residents.

So, yes, it’s fun to visit the fair. But it’s also financially smart to support it. We’ll see you there – be sure to stop by The Union’s booth in the Main Street Center and say howdy.

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