State Fair turnout gets assist from holiday sun

The Baltimore Sun

Organizers expect attendance for this year's Maryland State Fair to be higher than the turnout last year, when rain fell during the normally busy Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day weekend 2007 was different, with temperatures in the 80s and sunshine galore. That meant big crowds at the Timonium fairgrounds and lots of business for vendors. Early estimates put total fair attendance this year at about 410,000, compared with 344,000 last year.

"We have had two fabulous days in a row," said Max Mosner, president and general manager of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society Inc., the nonprofit that runs the annual event. "We made hay while the sun shined."

Official tally today

Although an official attendance tally won't be released until today, Mosner said yesterday that he was confident numbers were up. Fine weather helped to make Saturday one of the best Labor Day weekend Saturdays in the past decade, with admission of more than 78,000, he said.

Mosner said money earned from this year's fair will be used in part to build a new exhibition hall. The state is contributing $500,000 and Baltimore County $100,000, but the fair group will have to come up with $1 million to complete the hall, he said.

'In the black'

Last year, when rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto kept many people away from the fair on Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend and forced organizers to cancel Friday's headline music act, the event came up about $40,000 short of budget, Mosner said. Money to cover lost revenue came from reserves, he said.

Mosner doesn't expect to have to dip into savings again. "This year we will be in the black," he said.

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