Rain dampens attendance at Field Days


COW WHISPERER SAMUEL Wilbur, 11, of Whiting gets an earful from his Brown Swiss cow, Destiny, waiting for the 4-H dairy conformation class during the 2019 Addison County Fair and Field Days in New Haven. Independent photo/Steve James

NEW HAVEN — With a wink and a nod, anyone who’s lived around these parts for a while will acknowledge that our beloved Addison County Fair & Field Days is engaged in an epic annual struggle with the weather gods.

On one hand — the positive one — heavy rains might scatter crowds into nearby tents and buildings, where perhaps they’ll get to experience magical moments they hadn’t known to look for.

Less helpful is when such weather prompts, among other things, the deployment of tractors to help visitors extract their cars from the muddy parking lot.

But as they say in show biz, “The show must go on.” So it does, year after year.

During the fair’s 2019 run on Aug. 6-10, rain made its biggest impact on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and while there is no official tally of how much unplanned delight this may have produced, there are results for attendance and ticket sales.

And they were down this year, though final numbers are not yet ready.

“The weather impacted attendance in multiple ways,” said Benj Deppman, vice president of the Field Days Board of Directors. “Some people stayed away because of the rain itself, but then we think some people stayed away because of the mud in our parking lots.”

In fact, Field Days folks did push and pulled a couple vehicles out of the mud as needed, he said.

With that in mind, Field Days crews have already begun repairing the roads and parking lot to be ready for next year, Deppman said.

In spite of the weather there was plenty of good news to go with this year’s fair.

“The James Foster Welcome Center bathrooms were able to be used this year, and we know they were popular with people as they arrived or planned to leave the fair,” Deppman said.

That welcome center was completed in time for last year’s Field Days and was named for longtime Field Days supporter — and former board president — James Foster, who died in 2017.

Field Days also added some power upgrades this year, Deppman said, which made life easier for campers and vendors on the grounds.

A couple of events — a turkey calling event and a youth slingshot competition — made their debuts in 2019.

“Both of those events are new, and we expect they will continue to grow in popularity,” Deppman said.

Improving infrastructure remains a high priority for next year, he added.

“We have our eyes on a barn for the poultry exhibit, but we aren’t sure whether that will be ready in time for 2020.”

All in all, Deppman concluded, “Field Days continues to be a successful event!”

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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