Fair nets more income in 2011; Exhibit numbers up; entertainment costs controlled
Fair income was up in most categories this year compared to 2010, executive director Ross Silkman said Sunday at the annual membership meeting of the Southeast Alaska State Fair, Inc.
Members elected brothers Eric and Kevin Forster to the corporation’s board of directors.
Silkman reported net income from the fair event climbed to $87,708, up about $23,000 from last year. Net income to date also is up, at $98,549, compared to $71,872 this time last year.
Increases included fair gate admissions (up $3,000 to $71,768), and income from rides (up $1,500 to $12,430), and sponsorships (up about $2,500 to $15,400).
Decreases this year included an 8 percent drop in beer sales at the fair (to $23,000) and a drop in fair individual memberships to 82 from 91. Business memberships increased, off-setting the loss of membership income, Silkman said.
The cost of entertainment, the event’s single biggest expense, dropped 11 percent or about $5,000, due to tight management by entertainment directors Gabe Kutcher and Beth Bolander, Silkman said.
The number of exhibit entries was the highest since 2008 and helped draw more people into Harriett Hall than last year. Many fairgoers were also getting their first look at $280,000 in renovations to the hall completed in the past year, Silkman said.
At its special events this year, income from the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival increased 6 percent to $23,000, but income from the annual salmon barbecue dropped. Due to poor weather, about 250 fewer attended the salmon bake this year.
Silkman said the fair would seek to stem complaints from those turned away from the brew fest this year by "plastering" advertising with a notice that gate tickets are limited and to buy tickets online. "That’s an easy fix."
To reduce lines, the fair also will look at establishing a third booth for admission tickets.
Other planned improvements next year include a staircase to the Little League field, relocating the kiddie train depot, improved gates for security and aesthetics, a new storage shed behind Harriett Hall, ice rink expansion, and a third stage on the fairgrounds for acoustic music.
A restroom trailer acquired from the borough just downhill from the ballfields should be open May 1, he said.
Silkman reported the fair was successful with 10 of 13 grant requests it wrote last year.
Fair board chair Jerry Erny hailed the work of Silkman and assistant director Jessica Edwards, and cited the breadth of community volunteers who help during the year. "When you see the list of what everybody does for the fair, it’s really commendable."
Erny said he hoped to improve traffic issues on Fair Drive. That concern was raised by member Doris Ward, who has gone to fairs since they were held at the American Legion Hall. "They get better every year," Ward said.
Upcoming events at the fairgrounds will include the Haines High School home cross-country meet Sept. 9 and a barn dance sponsored by the Sheldon Museum Oct. 1.
Sunday’s membership meeting was capped by a volunteer’s dinner and a dance in Dalton City featuring the band "Dead Man Winter."
Fair board members include Erny, Theresa Raven, Paul Wheeler, Julie Anderson, and Bob Mussman. Deborah Marshall also expressed an interest in serving on the board at Sunday’s meeting.