Isle of Wight County Fair again turns a profit

Published 5:20 pm Friday, December 9, 2022

The Isle of Wight County Fair has turned a profit for the second year in a row.

According to Fair Committee Chairman Danny Byrum, this year’s fair, held Sept. 15-18, netted just over $118,000. That’s based on nearly $451,000 in revenue, including non-monetary donations, and just over $332,000 in expenses.

This year, revenue from vendors was up 16%, at $34,442 compared to $27,882 in 2021. Though the fair still brought in well over 32,000 attendees, attendance this year was 282 tickets shy of the 32,737 reported last year. The 2021 fair netted a profit of just under $186,000.

According to Fair Events Coordinator Jenilee Hallman, Isle of Wight was able to realize savings this year by using three large, permanent metal pavilions in place at the county’s Heritage Park fairgrounds, resulting in fewer tent rentals. Despite the savings, the total $332,462.52 in expenses the county incurred this year was just over $100 more than last year.

This year’s Miss Isle of Wight County Fair pageant brought in just over $2,000, compared to just under $1,400 in 2021, and attracted significantly more participants and attendees. According to Byrum, this year’s pageant drew five junior contestants ages 9-12, eight teen contestants ages 13-16, three miss contestants ages 17-22, and a total of 147 attendees, compared to two junior contestants, three teen contestants, three miss contestants and 61 attendees in 2021.

“Seems like everything we do is cycling. … We went there for two to three years where we couldn’t hardly get many people, and this year we had quite a few,” Byrum said during his Nov. 17 presentation to Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors.

The county’s Seafood Fest, held annually the day before the four-day fair, was down just over $300 in ticket sales compared to 2021, but the event isn’t intended as a money-maker, Byrum said. Its goal is to provide something to the fair’s sponsors in exchange for their contributions, in this case, a free meal.

The fair, historically, hasn’t been a money-maker either.

“This is the second year in a row we’ve actually made a profit,” said County Administrator Randy Keaton. “Up until last year and this year it’s always been, ‘How much do we need to subsidize?’”