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Shenandoah County Fair attendance on par with last year

By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

Slightly more people attended the Shenandoah County Fair than in 2011, according to fair association general manager Tom Eshelman.

Although official numbers aren't yet available, it appears attendance was "just a little bit" higher than last year's, he said in a Friday afternoon phone interview.

"Attendance was just under 30,000," said Eshelman, who is in his initial year helming the nearly century-old fair.

"We had three sell-out nights, which was great," he said.

The George Jones concert, the tractor-pull and the first demolition derby sold out, while nearly all the tickets for the second derby were sold, according to Eshelman.

Last year's final night entertainment - professional wrestling - was replaced by a rodeo, which didn't draw as many attendees, he said.

"The Valley Foundation beer garden that was held during the concert nights was a big success," Eshelman said.

Another change from last year that seemed to go well was relocating the Zerbini Family Circus, he said. It was moved from the end of the midway near Ox Road to a more central part of the midway across the way from rides geared to youngsters.

"And, that worked," Eshelman said. "The birds of prey [exhibit] was on display in that area as well. He had increased visitation over last year.

"We also had some of the largest agricultural equipment displays than we had in a long, long time. If you wanted to look at a tractor, there were plenty of them here to look at."

Another hit was the decision to ferry senior fairgoers in the evenings between the parking lot and the fair entrances on large golf carts partially sponsored by The Rockingham Group, Eshelman said.

"That was a big, big, big plus," he said.

Another plus was the lack of rain, with the exception of part of one night.

"It's hard to have a nine-day fair and have nine clear days," Eshelman said.

While the general manager was pleased with the outcome of the fair, "there's always room for improvement," he noted.

"The fair's been here 95 years and there's always something we can do to make a slight improvement," Eshelman said.

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