By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
MONROE — Even though attendance at the Evergreen State Fair was down nearly 14 percent in 2008, the event still ranked as the 25th most popular fair in the world.
The International Association of Fairs and Expositions recently released its list of the top 100 attended fairs and exhibitions. The 10-day Evergreen State Fair also was ranked the 22nd best-attended fair in the country and second in the state behind the Puyallup Fair, which came in eighth place in the world and sixth in the United States. About 1.16 million people visited the Puyallup Fair and more than 761,000 attended Evergreen State last summer.
The Monroe and Puyallup fairs regularly rank among the world’s top 25 fairs. In fact, the Evergreen State Fair was listed No. 19 in 2007 when more than 882,000 people visited, fair manager Mark Campbell said.
The dip in attendance in 2008 was caused primarily by wet weather, Campbell said. Other factors included the price of gasoline and the economic downturn, the fair association said.
“Hey, No. 25 is still pretty cool,” Campbell said. “To be listed among of the most popular fairs in the world is very prestigious. It reflects the passion and participation of not only the people of Snohomish County, but of the region.”
Rain and gas prices also slowed down the flow of folks attending the 17-day run of the Puyallup Fair, spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said.
The Evergreen State Fair is a high-quality fair at an affordable price, and that’s why it’s consistently among the top 25 best-attended fairs in the world, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said.
“The ranking is significant because despite economic uncertainty and our fast-paced lives, people take pride in this fair and want to participate,” Reardon said. “It’s successful because of its agricultural and community focus. Lots of fairs are responding to hard times by being more commercial. People here appreciate their roots. Those of us who grew up going to the fair are now taking our kids.”
Campbell and his Evergreen State Fair management staff already are busy preparing for this year’s fair, set for Aug. 27 through Sept. 7.
“We enjoy the attendance ranking, but our concern is simply for a successful fair this year,” Campbell said. “We want a safe and enjoyable event for all. If the numbers get better, then great, but the other expectations must be met and exceeded.”
Along with U.S. state fairs, others on the world’s top-100 list are in Canada and Australia.
The International Association of Fairs and Expositions ranked the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Texas as the most popular fair with an attendance last year of 1.8 million. Others in the top 10 include the Minnesota State Fair, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the Los Angeles County Fair, the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede in Alberta, the San Diego County Fair, the Iowa State Fair and the Arizona State Fair.
Other Washington state fairs in the top 100 list include the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima at No. 65, the Clark County Fair in Ridgefield at No. 78, the Spokane County Interstate Fair at No. 88 and the 96th-ranked Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden. The Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, B.C., was ranked No. 26, right after the Evergreen State Fair.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427, email@example.com.
More information about the Evergreen State Fair is available online at www.evergreenfair.org.