County Fair turns profit for third year

Published 5:55 pm Thursday, November 23, 2023

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For the third year in a row, the Isle of Wight County Fair has turned a profit.

Fair Coordinator Jenilee Hallman briefed county supervisors on Nov. 16. This year’s fair, held Sept. 14-17, netted just under $162,000, not counting the value of non-monetary contributions by sponsors, Hallman said.

The total reflects a nearly 132% increase over last year’s profit of just under $69,800.

This year’s fair took in just under half a million dollars, not counting non-monetary contributions by sponsors, and incurred roughly $337,400 in expenses.

Even with the cancellation of this year’s fall truck and tractor pull, which had drawn nearly 1,800 attendees in 2022, attendance across this year’s September festivities was still a record-breaker at 38,657, up 19% from last year’s 32,455.

This year’s Miss Isle of Wight scholarship pageant, held on Aug. 13,  drew 197 attendees, up from 147 last year, and brought in just over $2,500. The pageant saw seven contestants in the Junior Miss category for ages 9-12, up from five last year. Five contestants entered the Teen Miss category for ages 13-16, down from eight last year. Another six entered the Miss category for ages 17-22, up from three last year.

This year’s Miss Isle of Wight, Madison Lowe, will compete at the 2024 Miss Virginia Association of Fairs Pageant on Jan. 7, held at the Williamsburg Lodge.

Isle of Wight County has traditionally budgeted with the expectation of having to subsidize a loss with tax dollars, according to County Administrator Randy Keaton, but for the past three years has reversed the trend.

The county’s Seafood Fest, held the evening of Sept. 13 as the kickoff to the fair, drew 495 attendees, up 6.2% from the 466 who attended last year, and brought in just under $8,800.

The Seafood Fest hasn’t been a money-maker in past years either, but isn’t intended to be, according to Hallman. The county hosts the event and provides its fair sponsors free tickets as a means of thanking them for their contributions.