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Fair-goers need admission options

Past editions of the Harrison County Fair are remembered for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes it’s because a family member won a ribbon in a 4-H competition, or perhaps a neighbor baked the best apple pie and it was auctioned off to help raise money for scholarships. Maybe someone you knew came through with a good distance in the truck or tractor pull. Or maybe you helped feed a grand champion Angus.
Then, there’s always entertainment, or weather, or another reason.
In the end, if you went to the 150th consecutive annual Harrison County Fair, chances are that something happened that you’ll always remember (and if you were at the fair Thursday night when the toad strangler rolled through, that memory probably included a lot of mud).
But many, many more people would probably come to the fair and make those memories if they didn’t have to pay $8 per person to gain admission.
For my family of four, it would have cost $32 just to get in the gate, and that doesn’t include drinks that are $1.50 or more, $2 for popcorn, $3 for a pulled pork sandwich, etc. I know I’m not alone in saying that paying $40 or $50 for three or four hours’ worth of the fair is just too much.
Proponents of the pay-one-price (POP) policy cite the things folks get for their $8: Everyone is entered into a daily cash drawing, there are unlimited rides, there’s free parking and there’s free grandstand admission.
Infield parking ‘ when it was available ‘ the final three nights of the fair was a complete mess, both literally and figuratively. Not everyone wants to stick around for the drawing, and not everyone (especially seniors) wants to ride rides.
The comment I hear most on a list of gripes about our fair is the cost.
The fair board and the ride company, Interstate Amusements of America Inc., split admission proceeds 50-50, then each side contributes the same ratio toward the nightly cash drawings.
There’s no real good reason why they couldn’t keep that sort of contract, but charge less to those who don’t want to ride rides or go to the grandstand. For those who want to do that sort of thing, keep the $8 fee and give those folks a wristband that’s good for the grandstand and rides. For those who don’t want to do anything other than check out the exhibits, see the animals and partake of the Lions Club’s famous lemon shake-ups, charge $4 or $5.
Or let’s say a family goes to the fair and they paid the non-POP fee, but they decide they want to take out their aggression on the bumper cars. Give them a way to purchase tickets for the ride, then the ride company can split those profits with the fair board.
What the fair and amusement company would lose in initial profit, they would probably make up in the number of additional people who come out to the fairgrounds.
Saying ‘it just can’t be done’ isn’t good enough anymore. People like to have options. Unfortunately, skipping the $8 admission fee and staying home is becoming far too good of an option for a lot of people.