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More than 30,000 people visited fair

Paula Wren holds her great niece Savannah Wren, 18, months of Woodstock during Monday night's demolition derby at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. Savannah's father, Jimmy, was a derby driver in the event. Fair officials say attendance this year was up fifteen percent. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Tom Eshelman (Buy photo)

By Ryan Cornell

The Shenandoah County Fair wrapped up its 96th year on Saturday with attendance numbers "well over 30,000" and an increase of more than 15 percent in admissions from last summer, according to General Manager Tom Eshelman.

Although the fair didn't break any records for total attendance, Eshelman said more than 5,000 people showed up on Aug. 24, which set a record for the highest number of people out of any opening Saturday.

He said the Civil War 150 History Mobile had record numbers all eight days it offered tours and said that the stands were fuller than usual during the harness races. He said the free music stage and chainsaw carving competition were other popular spots for fairgoers.

"All of the free events helped drive up the gate admissions this year," he said, adding that there were more sponsors supporting the fair this year than ever before.

Unlike last year's county fair, which had three sell-out nights, Eshelman said there weren't any sold-out events this year, though the tractor pull and demolition derbies were close to capacity.

Even the Thompson Square concert was left with unsold tickets.

"Can't figure that one out to save my soul," he said. "They were the ACM Top Vocal Duo for the past two years. For the life of me, I can't figure out why people hadn't come out in full force."

The weather might have had something to do with the low turnout.

He said the Woodstock fairgrounds received more than 2 inches of rain on opening day and experienced more rainfall most of Wednesday leading up to the concert.

Eshelman, who's already started planning for next year's fair, said he's starting to assess the information scanned from tickets.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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