The Salem Fair culminated its 12-day run at the Taliaferro Complex Sunday night on a high note. Fair officials say that attendance and revenue were steady this summer, despite several bouts of rain and oppressive heat.
“Our crowds really picked-up once the sun went down and things got cooler,” says Wendy Delano, Salem Director of Civic Facilities. “The serious riders never worry about the heat, but the families with kids, who like to enjoy the entire fair experience, prefer it a little cooler.”
While attendance is not tracked through direct admission, America’s largest free gate fair still welcomed an estimated 300,000 visitors from the Virginia’s Blue Ridge region and beyond between July 3 and July 14.
“Returning to our traditional closing time of 11 p.m. was most beneficial throughout the fair and especially on the last weekend,” says Carey Harveycutter, Salem Fair Manager. “We had rain of some sort on six different days. Being open an extra hour each night allowed our concession and attraction folks additional time to generate revenue, and it allowed us to squeeze in our fireworks show on July 4.”
Thanks to the generosity of fairgoers and the promotional efforts of area media members, several local non-profits benefitted from the Salem Fair in 2019. The Roanoke Rescue Mission received over 3,000 pairs of socks from patrons and several thousand pounds of food was donated to the Salem-Roanoke County Food Pantry. In addition, the United Way of the Roanoke Valley will again receive a generous donation from Kroger thanks to another increase in advance sales of the Megapass unlimited ride ticket.
“We are aware that there are endless entertainment choices and opportunities these days, so we greatly appreciate each and every person who made the fair a priority and stepped on the midway this July,” says Delano. “We saw a bunch of smiling faces and helped some very deserving organizations in the process.”
The Blue Ribbon exhibit section, under the direction of Melissa de Pineda, was once again a critical part of the fair. Nearly 825 exhibitors entered 3,600 items in a wide variety of competitive categories, ranging from cake decorating to photography.
The 2020 Salem Fair is set for July 1-12