The State Of A Fair
Pensacola, Florida was hit hard by the oil spill crisis this year and continues to feel the effects. Tourism has suffered, jobs have been lost, you could play a big game of ‘Connect-The-Dots’ given the number of ‘For Sale’ signs hanging up in the windows of once bustling businesses and although it is pure speculation, it appears as though the Pensacola Interstate Fair got slimed as well.
Fairs are usually packed with people, but I couldn’t help notice this time it was anything but. Maybe I went too early, maybe it’s because it was a Thursday, maybe because there was a threat of rain, the kids were tired, the dog was sick, the car wouldn’t start. Who knows, but it was sad. Sad because when I went for a second night, the popularity hadn’t seemed to change much, sad because the vendors who stood waiting for customers looked extremely bored and sad because many people probably just couldn’t afford to go this year.
If you’ve never been to a fair, here are some basics: Your eyes will be bigger than your stomach. You will pay upwards of $5 for a corn dog and though that may be seem painful on its own, you will buy the soda to go along with it for $5 more. Then there are the sweet treats and those aren’t any less expensive. You will play games that seem impossible to win, but win you will and your prize???…a ridiculously large stuffed animal which may feel like a representation of the success of your competitive spirit, but you will haven’t the slightest idea what to do with it when you get it home. Tickets for rides are around $1.75 each, but it takes at least 5 of those to go around once on the giant ferris wheel and if the ride is any fun at all….you’ll definitely want to go again. My point is…bring a lot of cold hard cash because even though you can mosey the exhibits, enjoy live entertainment and people-watch for free, fairs are expensive. I’d forgotten just how much so until I went this year on opening night. (thank you $2 admission ticket special)
All of that aside… I found some facts on this Fair’s website to be very interesting. A few of which are:
- Every year, the Fair generates over $8 million dollars of consumer spending in the local economy.
- Each year, the Fair generates over 300 jobs.
- 80% of the over $2.5 million dollar Fair’s budget is spent and stays in the local economy.
- The Fair operates SOLELY and ONLY through the funds derived from its annual FAIR. It does not receive any subsidy or any financial aid from any source, CITY, COUNTY, STATE, FEDERAL OR BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS.
And so with that….given the state of affairs, I will keep my mouth shut about the price of a corn dog and just see it as stimulating the economy in an area that once thrived, was famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches and is now simply struggling to keep its head above the oily water.
If you’d like to see more images from my trip, click here.