King County Fair numbers double, revenue numbers more so

With the 2015 edition of the King County Fair in their rear-view mirror, the staff at the Enumclaw Expo Center was able to take a moment to assess where things stand – and, by all accounts, they like what they see.

The Expo Center’s executive director, Scott Gray, appeared before the Enumclaw City Council Aug. 10 and reported that the first year of a new era was largely positive.

“We’re pretty excited about what went on with the King County Fair,” Gray told council members. “We think, mentally and physically, we’re on the right track.”

The numbers show reason for Gray’s optimism. Last year’s fair attendance had dwindled to just 7,600, he said, while this year’s numbers climbed to 15,700.

Other figures – financial ones – will remain something of a mystery. Gray said the nonprofit group now running the Expo Center is choosing to keep exact revenues and expenditures under wraps. However, Gray was willing to note that 2015 revenues were five times greater than what was paid to the city by Universal Fairs, the previous fair operator.

Also on the positive side, Gray said, was the renewed emphasis on agriculture. From the 4-H ranks, 475 youngsters displayed 384 animals, Gray noted, which accounted for 359 exhibits and involved 236 volunteers.

Looking forward, fair boosters are hoping to create more community involvement, giving parts of the fair “almost a company picnic look,” Gray said. Other small fairs throughout the region have had success with old-fashioned things like three-legged races and sack races, he added. The goal, Gray said, is to have people head to the fair and be participants, not just observers.

The fair was the beginning of a hectic run for those in the Expo Center office. The big Scottish Highland Games immediately followed and, just last weekend, came the annual Olympic Kennel Club dog show. Heading into the dog show weekend, Gray was anticipating there could be 60,000 visitors to the grounds.

Updating the council on coming events, Gray noted a flea market/swap meet is set for Aug. 28-29 and a “brewfest” event is being planned for late October.

Council members appeared impressed by what the nonprofit Enumclaw Expo and Events Association has accomplished.

“To pull off what you did in a three-month period was really outstanding,” Councilman Darrel Dickson said, referring to the fair. “We see new life being breathed into it.”