The Enumclaw Expo Center is appearing to have an extremely successful year across the board.
During the Sept. 25 Enumclaw City Council meeting, Expo Director Rene Popke presented various facts and figures to elected officials and, in nearly every category, those numbers improved over last year.
Of course, the year isn’t over yet and there are still several large events — the BBQ, Brews, and Brats event last weekend and the popular Christmas Experience in December, not to mention any additional Field House rentals and private events — that will factor into the overall headcount and net income the Expo Center sees this year.
Here are some of the more exciting items Popke shared.
Q1, WINE AND CHOCOLATE
From January to March, the Enumclaw Expo Center only puts on one event — the annual Wine and Chocolate Festival, which will turn 15 in February 2024.
Popke said that this event is not one of the Expo Center’s high-attendance events (in fact, attendance was down from about 2,500 heads last year to about 2,200 this year), but even with the lower attendance, the event — through the new VIP passes, general price increases, and decreased expenses – the Expo Center actually saw revenue rise from about $40,000 in 2022 to $98,000.
“It’s really a testament to quality over quantity,” she continued.
When adding in attendance at various Field House events, gate entry counts rose from just over 27,000 last year to nearly 48,000. And with more heads comes more money — the Expo Center’s net income for its first quarter increased by $185,000, about 15%, over the same time period in 2022.
Q2, OUTSIDE EVENTS
From April to June, the Expo Center is strictly focused on prepping for the King County Fair, so only events organized by other parties — Cascade Mountain Men, Washington Arms Collectors, Country Chicks events, and more — are being put on.
Gate counts and net income again rose from last year; about 17,300 more people walked onto the Expo Center’s grounds (for a total of around 43,500), bringing with them roughly $67,000 in more gross profit over 2022 (about 25%).
The Expo Center has it all July through August — the King County Fair, the Scottish Highland Games, the Pro Rodeo, and the Olympic Kennel Club.
Quite obviously, it is the “busiest season,” Popke said.
Overall, gate count increased from 102,610 people last year to an estimated 112,450 (these are softer numbers because employees and volunteers physically count people entering the county fair with clickers and might have undercounted).
Due to the recent BBQ, Brews & Brats event, the Expo Center did not have updated Quarter 3 numbers that were originally presented to the Enumclaw Council.
But many people are interested in the King County Fair numbers, for obvious reasons — so here’s that breakdown.
Attendance at the fair did increase, but only by a marginal amount, from 49,845 people to 50,156.
Popke noted that Saturday, which was the fair’s most crowded day last year, was very hot — 91 degrees at its zenith, in fact — which discouraged some from coming.
“People in western Washington don’t know what to do when it’s over 90 degrees,” she said. “You literally saw our grounds go to the lake, and I wanted to go too.”
The kickoff day was highly successful, though, and attracted 3,000 more people than the previous year.
Interestingly enough, concession and carnival commissions were down this year, though remained in the ballpark of other Washington fairs, Popke said.
And then there is the Pro Rodeo, which also had a fantastic year.
According to Popke, the first day of the rodeo sold out of tickets, the first time in three years.
Saturday always sells out, but Sunday also saw a record of 1,437 attendees at the event.