By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Perfect weather was the hallmark of the 2017 Clark County Fair and Rodeo. And the fact that schools across the region were out, along with the mild sunny days, really brought out the crowds.
“We knew that spring break would boost our numbers early in the week and that they’d fall off a little Sunday because of the holiday, but the rest of the week we knew would be dependent on the weather,” said Clark County Fair Manager Todd Robison in a post-Fair interview on Monday morning this week. “There’s a saying in the fair business that great weather will outperform great management any day and that is completely accurate.”
It certainly held true for this year’s fair. According to Robison, the total fair attendance was 83,298, which was up by nearly 10,000 over last year’s rainy weather attendance. It was similar to the attendance numbers for the 2015 fair.
Attendance at the rodeo was also up this year. “Our rodeo is one of the top 25 in the nation in terms of payout,” Robison said. “People know that no matter which night they come to the rodeo, they are going to see world champions competing.”
Robison said that overall the fair ran smoothly this year. For the first time, the fair opened its gates to the public at 10:00 am on Wednesday morning. Last year the fair opened Wednesday afternoon, and prior to that it always had opened Thursday morning. Robison said that the added day exceeded all expectations.
“Wednesday was a huge success!” Robison saids. “For the most part, everything was ready and it went really well. There were a few people who didn’t understand what we were doing and that the carnival would not open until 4, but we’ll straighten out those hiccups for next year and move on.”
Robison explained that because of the carnival’s traveling schedule, opening the rides prior to late Wednesday will never be an option. “They leave Tucson, AZ, late on Sunday night and travel all the way up here,” Robison said of the Brown’s Amusements carnival. “By the time they get here and get everything set up and checked for safety, opening Wednesday morning is just not possible.”
One of the most successful attractions at the Fair was the Nevada Deaprtment of Wildlife (NDOW) exhibit which was relocated this year to the northern end of the grounds. Robison explained that about four years ago the fair partnered with NDOW on the exhibit. It has been a big success ever since, he said.
“We felt that the BBQ tent on the north side of the grounds wasn’t really being used to its full potential so we re-purposed the tent to house a wildlife and art exhibit that really drew crowds to that side of the fairgrounds and helped balance out our traffic,” Robison said.
The entertainment that used to be held on the stage in the BBQ tent was moved to the Showcase stage on the other side of the fairgrounds to help make that area stronger, Robison explained.
With the addition of more seating and extra picnic tables near the Showcase stage and food court, Robison felt that this year the crowds were as balanced across the fairgrounds as they have ever been.
Response to this year’s fair was very positive and Robison and other board members were pleased.
“You’ll always have people that give the fair rave reviews and say what a great time they had and you’ll always have those that complain,” Robison said. “The trick is to listen to what they say and then do what you think is best and make smart decisions.”
Robison pointed out that the fair offers a whole day’s worth of entertainment and activities for less than the price of a movie ticket. “We really try to keep prices down and make it an affordable day,” he said. “Some people complain about the entry price, but we kind of use the price of a movie ticket as our benchmark and keep it under that. At the fair, however, you get a whole day’s worth of entertainment instead of just 2 hours worth.”
Robison said he also tries to make sure that food court prices are also not too inflated, although he admitted that since the fair is an event, food prices will naturally be a little higher.
Robison was quick to say that putting on a great fair is a group effort. “We couldn’t have a fair like this without the support of the community and the good people that live here,” he said. “It is great to see neighbors and friends all working together towards a common goal. There are lots of great people that step up and make the fair happen.”