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July 24, 2010

Carnival feels recession at 4-H Fair

Numbers slightly down from last year

ANDERSON, Ind. — Economists may be predicted a slow crawl out of the recession, but the carnival company at the Madison County 4-H Fair says the recession has affected business more this year than in previous years.

“Last year, it seemed like people weren’t taking trips, and they were going to the carnival,” said Dominic Macaroni, owner of Family Attractions and Amusement Company. “I feel like, this year, they have decided they’d rather spend that money on groceries than the carnival.”

The 2010 Madison County 4-H Fair ended Saturday. Both the carnival company and the fair’s underwriter, the Alexandria Kiwanis Club, reported a little less success than last year, though both were happy with the turnout, given the weather.

“We did pretty well,” said Kenny Summers, president of the Alexandria Kiwanis Club.

Macaroni said carnivals hadn’t felt the national recession until about a month ago, when his colleagues began reporting a sudden decline for the summer.

“I don’t know what those economists are seeing, but we have hundreds of people come up to that little window there saying, ‘Is there anything I can do?’” he said. “I know there’s a lot of people out of a job or probably doing things they had never done.”

The carnival company, which was responsible for rides and games at the 4-H fair for the first time, made less money this year than the previous company did in other years, according to Macaroni.

“We’re running a bit down,” he said. “But I think a lot of that has got to do with weather, heat and economy.”

Summers also reported a slight decrease in fair traffic this year.

“The heat hasn’t helped us much,” said Summers of the Kiwanis Club. “We’ve had three or so days that have just been treacherous.”

Summers said a couple of hogs died earlier in the week from heat exhaustion, but “everyone got real smart real quick.” No other animals died.

The temperature reached 92 degrees in Alexandria on Friday and 91 degrees on Saturday. Animals had to be hosed down constantly, and hardly anyone was seen without a beverage, ice cream or Popsicle.

It also rained three days of the fair. Macaroni said the wet weather came during down times, so it wasn’t so bad.

Both Summers and Macaroni said they would be changing some things next year for the fair.

“We want to see if we can get a little more fun to a lot more people,” Summers said.

Both said they’ll work to have more “bracelet days.” On those days, during designated times, anyone who pays $15 for a bracelet gets unlimited rides.

Melissa Hollingsworth, a Pendleton resident, said she brought her 7-year-old daughter Adriana Simon to the fair twice before Saturday’s third visit. One day, she said, they looked at the animals.

“Then we just couldn’t wait for bracelet day, so we had to take a day to ride the rides,” she said.

Though some consider fairs expensive, Hollingsworth said she thought the prices were better than at others. The Pendleton fair, she said, charged $20 for 22 tickets. The Alexandria fair charged $25 for 35 tickets.

And the only entrance fee was a $3 parking charge during certain hours, Summer said. That money, he said, “goes right back into the fair.”

As a yearly patron, Hollingsworth said she liked the fair more this year.

“It’s more open,” she said. “And, not because there are less people, but because of the setup.”

Contact Christina M. Wright, 640-4883, christina.wright@heraldbulletin.com.

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