By ANDY KIRKALDY
NEW HAVEN — The tally of visitors to Addison County Fair and Field Days last week didn’t just break the old record, set in 2005.
No, the attendance for the Tuesday-Saturday event handled the old record like a Hummer would treat a demo derby beater: About 78,000 people paid their way into the annual county fair, almost doubling the old mark of 40,000 achieved just a year ago.
First-time fair director Cara Mullin and other fair officials were, unsurprisingly, ecstatic with the results.
“Every day was just amazing, the amount of people that came through,” Mullin said.
Also happy were Field Days vendors, who moved plenty of t-shirts, maple products and fried dough.
“Some of them ran out of food on Saturday night,” Mullin said.
Fair-goers flocked to perennial mainstays such as the demo derby, armwrestling, and animal shows, and also packed entertainment venues to see gospel or country music, Marko the Master Hypnotist, and even a local troupe of belly dancers.
“All of the entertainers that came were very happy with the crowds,” Mullin said.
Some new wrinkles also proved popular. A women-only cast-iron skillet toss drew so many competitors that organizers added a kids’ bracket and decided to let men compete next year (see complete Field Days results on Pages 4B-10B). Mullin said officials also learned from the magnitude of some of the tosses that the show tent was not big enough to stage the skillet competition in the future.
“We’ll have it at the tractor-pulling site,” she said. “There were some fierce throws.”
As for how the fair lured so many, Mullin pointed to last week’s mostly clear skies and warm, but not beach-hot, temperatures.
“The weather was definitely a factor, with it being so beautiful except for a three-hour window on Thursday,” she said.
The fair also advertised in the nationally distributed Family Fun magazine, a move that drew calls from tourists, and Mullin also believes fair directors’ efforts to beef up Field Days’ offerings paid off.
“It’s a great fair with some great attractions,” she said.
Final financial figures were not available earlier this week, although Mullin said gate receipts totaled a little less than $200,000. The fair also collects vendor fees that had not been tallied, she said.
Despite the dramatic increase in fair-goers, Mullin said Field Days came and went without any significant glitches.
“I think things went really well,” she said. “The directors were saying the fair’s running nice and smoothly.”