This year’s Fair is over, but now is a good time to take a moment and reflect on the bigger picture of what the Florida State Fair is all about.
Tampa, FL (Vocus) February 20, 2010
The 2010 Florida State Fair, held from February 4th through the 15th, has released preliminary attendance figures that indicate 354,390 people visited the fair during its 12-day run. This is approximately a 24% decrease from the prior year when the final audited attendance was 466,733 people. The weather is normally the number one reason that impacts people’s decision to attend an outdoor event. During the twelve days of the 2010 Florida State Fair, three of those days were rainy and only three days were sunny and clear skies. Two out of the twelve days reached temperatures higher than 68° F degrees; the highest temperature was 76° F on opening day and the lowest was 37° F on February 14. Fair officials believe that economic conditions and the 2010 Super Bowl, which took place during the first Sunday of the fair this year, may have also influenced people’s decision to attend the fair.
Executive Director Charles Pesano states, "This year’s Fair is over, but now is a good time to take a moment and reflect on the bigger picture of what the Florida State Fair is all about. We bring fun, education, entertainment, arts and crafts, agriculture, food, music, rides, value and FAMILIES all together in one big place at one time. No other event can do this as well as a State Fair...and it’s my opinion that our State Fair does it better than all the others." The Fair’s 2010 theme, “Super Fair – Super Fun – Super Value” emphasized the more than 150 free things one can see and do at the fair that are included in the ticket price. The Florida State Fair further reinforced the value message on its Facebook and Twitter pages; and many fairgoers commented that they were unaware until this year of the vast array of offerings that did not require extra money.
Tampa Bay Times (tbt*), a St. Petersburg Times publication, recently ran a story comparing the Florida State Fair and the Strawberry Festival in its February 5, 2010 edition. It noted that the Strawberry Festival relies on the work of 2,500 volunteers to run their event. While the Florida State Fair recruits nearly 200 volunteers, the Fair Authority stimulates the local economy by providing year-round employment to more than seventy people and hires another 300+ seasonal staff to assist in running the operations of the Florida State Fair. This figure does not count the additional security and parking staff employed by Andy Frain Services and the on-site concessions company, Centerplate, who provide year-round and seasonal employment opportunities at the Fairgrounds for another 500+ paid positions.
Recently Tommy Duncan, a highly respected Tampa Bay blogger who manages the Sticks of Fire website, decided to investigate further the local economic impact from the Florida State Fair after readers voiced their skepticism on how much of the dollars spent at the Fair actually helps the local community. The article, posted online at http://sticksoffire.com/2010/02/08/florida-state-fair-economic-impact/, reinforces the relevance and economic impact of the Florida State Fair to the local community. It cites a 2006 analysis performed by the University of South Florida Center for Economic Development Research showing the economic benefits generated by the Florida State Fair Authority, which begins in Hillsborough County and ripples through a broader marketplace to produce incrementally greater contributions throughout the Tampa Bay region and the state of Florida. The article also noted that "just like any business who wants to separate you from your dough, it seems to me that a significant portion of that money gets spent again right here in Tampa Bay, and goes to help your neighbors from going into foreclosure." And, that just about summarizes why the success of outdoor events including the Florida State Fair are so important to Florida's economy especially the people living in its surrounding community.
The Florida State Fair is one of only a few state fairs that maintain audited procedures for documenting daily gate attendance and midway sales revenue. Gate attendance figures for the Florida State Fair include paid and complimentary admissions, participants in competitions and special events. Employees, food concessionaires, and commercial exhibitors are issued an I.D. badge and are not counted towards the daily attendance figures. The Office of the Inspector General for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has overseen the audit of the Florida State Fair since 1996.
Now in its 106th year, the Florida State Fair – always in Tampa and always in February – is organized by the Florida State Fair Authority under the leadership of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson leads the Fair Authority, which oversees operations for the Florida State Fairgrounds and the annual Florida State Fair. The Florida State Fair Authority is a non-profit organization which operates primarily from revenues generated from the annual State Fair and other ongoing events during the year. Presently, the Fair Authority does not receive any state tax appropriations from Hillsborough County, City of Tampa, nor the State of Florida.
For press relations inquiries, please contact a Fair Authority staff member as identified below:
(1) Denise Shreaves – Manager of Marketing & Public Relations for the Florida State Fair Authority
E-mail shreavd(at)doacs(dot)state(dot)fl(dot)us / Office #: (813) 627-4314 / Cell #: (813) 732-0141
(2) Rip Stalvey – Interim Director of Marketing for the Florida State Fair Authority
E-mail stalver1(at)doacs(dot)state(dot)fl(dot)us / Office #: (813) 627-4222 / Cell #: (813) 477-3138