GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Two days after this year’s Clay County Agriculture Fair was finished, Tasha Hyder already was working the phones looking for new acts for next year.
“We’ve got 360-something days until 2020, so we have to be ready,” the fair general manager said.
Although the carnival rides, exhibition booths and concession stands were on the road to their next festival, Hyder still was brimming with excitement. The 10-day fair at the Clay County Fairgrounds enjoyed a record boost in attendance, including a single-day mark of 26,000 on the next-to-last night.
“That was the best fair in the history of our fair,” she said. “Our attendance numbers were up 15 percent over last year, and we beat our overall record by a lot.”
The busiest fair drew 115,000 patrons, Hyder said. This year’s fair attracted more than 130,000 throughout the 10-day event.
“We did a lot of new marketing this year,” she said. “We tripled the entertainment and the truck and tractor pull was really big.”
What helped the count at the turnstiles was the decision to offer free admission from 10 a.m. to noon on April 12 to anyone 17 or younger, which led to the single-day attendance mark.
While Hyder already has shifted her attention to next year’s fair – which is from April 2-11 – she doesn’t want to change the promotions that worked.
“Joe Diffie was a big success. Our new seating for the concerts was a big success. And the truck and tractor pulls, I imagine they will be back, too.”
Other highlights included shows by the Marshall Tucker Band, Big and Rich, Shenandoah, Jordan Davis and Jimmie Allen, as well as the E-Zone for children, Redneck Romper Fashion Show and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at a new stand called Giddy Piggy.
“We’re ready for 2020,” Hyder said. “We already have new ideas to make it even better.”