About 4,600 fewer people attended the Maryland Wine Festival this year compared with last year, but profits rose by about $20,000, a county official said yesterday.
Attendance was down because of rainy weather Sept. 18, the Saturday that was the first day of the festival, Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson told the county commissioners.
A total of 20,395 people attended the 10th annual festival Sept. 18-19 at the Carroll County Farm Museum, he said. Of that total, 16,955 paid the $12 admission fee to attend. Volunteers and children did not pay admission.
Paid attendance on Saturday, when skies were cloudy and the festival was hit by a brief rain, was
5,106. On Sunday, the paid attendance was 11,849.
Last year, 25,008 people attended the festival, including 20,829 paid admissions, Mr. Soisson said. Paid attendance on Saturday was 9,658; on Sunday, 11,171.
Profits increased this year because the admission price was increased from $10 per person, he said.
Ticket sales this year generated about $203,000. After expenses and payments to the 10 Maryland vintners who participated, the county's net profit should be about $93,000, Mr. Soisson said. The final tally is not yet available. Last year's net profit was about $72,700, he said.
Festival organizers are investigating one change that would make it easier for visitors to get to the Farm Museum, Mr. Soisson said: They are considering running a free shuttle bus from Westminster High School or Carroll Community College, or both, to the museum.
One of the festival's biggest problems is traffic jams, he said. "It gets so backed up. I'm sure we lose people because they just get frustrated trying to get into the facility."
Organizers also may remove a fence behind one row of the vintners' tents to open more of the grassy area on the museum grounds.
County officials had considered expanding the event to three days -- to include Friday afternoon and evening. But that won't happen next year, Mr. Soisson said, because it would be difficult to get volunteers for a third festival day.