Country superstar Thomas Rhett and a good week of warm weather helped bring in the crowd.
The free day at the races, under new management, probably didn’t hurt either.
Altogether, the Grays Harbor County fair set another record year — its second time in a row.
The 2014 fair’s total attendance is sitting at 66,935. According to Fair Director Mike Bruner, that breaks the fair attendance record of 65,641 that was set in 2013.
“At this point, though numbers still need to be confirmed, it is safe to say that a new attendance record has been set by what looks like 1,294 fairgoers,” Bruner said.
Saturday was the busiest day, with 22,466 people in attendance. Bruner said that’s a record for Saturday attendance. During the rest of the week, 11,950 people attended Wednesday, 9,038 attended Thursday, 12,855 attended Friday and 10,619 attended Sunday.
Rhett performed Wednesday night, and Bruner said the concert was this year’s biggest success.
“He’s a rising star in the country music world, and I think he put on a great show and it was well-attended,” Bruner said. “He just happened to have an opening in his schedule, and we were lucky enough to get him.”
Rhett, 24, released his debut single, “Something to Do with my Hands,” in 2012, followed by “Beer with Jesus,” both of which cracked the top 30 Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
His third single, “It Goes Like This,” peaked at No. 2 on that chart and topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
It was the highest Wednesday attendance in 10 years — since country star Dierks Bentley played at the fair in 2004.
Bruner also credited an expanded marketing approach for bringing in the people. The attendance might have been even higher, although the Super Bowl champion Seahawks went back on the field Thursday for their first pre-season game, Bruner noted.
“Sunday’s high heat may have had a small effect on the number of people showing up to the fair, but we are still very pleased by the strong attendance and how the fair went,” Bruner said. “We had a significant number of attendees who traveled from well outside the county, to take in our fair.”
And even though fair staff and volunteers are still cleaning up after this year’s event, they’re already thinking about next year, Bruner said. He hopes to see the animal barns filled in coming years, and is working on ways to spread the word about open-class showing events.
“We’re look at some ways that we can spark some interest and fill those barns,” Bruner said. “You don’t have to be a member of 4-H and FFA to participate.”
As always, the fair was successful because of sponsors and volunteers.
“The fair’s an event that couldn’t happen without those great people and organizations,” the fair manager said.