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Fair fun now just memories

"The weather was perfect, the crowd was steady, and the mini-donuts were hot. But like the supply of deep-fried treats, the Island County Fair finally ran out Sunday night after a record five-day run.Ticket sales totals recorded by fair staff Monday show about $89,000 pouring into the fair's coffers. With the average ticket price at about $5 this year, the income figure suggests that about 18,000 people attended the fair. As of Tuesday, the fair staff had not calculated an official attendance figure.Fair board president Ruth Turner said the addition of Wednesday as a paid admission day in the fair schedule was an experiment. Though the carnival rides and musical acts scheduled for that day did draw a modest crowd, Turner said she is not sure if the fair broke even on its costs for the additional day of entertainment.The two best days in terms of ticket sales, she said, were Friday and Saturday. Those two days are traditionally the busiest, she said.The attendance was fantastic on Saturday, she said.Big draws on the weekend days included a reptile exhibit in the pole barn, daily standing-room-only Hot Shot tap dancing shows, and The Timebenders nostalgic rock and roll concert Saturday night. Turner also said the mini donuts the South Whidbey Lions Club was selling kept fairgoers' were a hot item. After being absent from the fair for several years, the donuts sold out several times during the five-day run.Sunday fair attendance was lower than expected, Turner said. The traditional Barnyard Scramble was missing from the schedule, but other animal events drew a sizeable turnout.The headline entertainment act on Sunday, the comedy team of Williams & Ree, did not draw as well as better known groups in past years.Whidbey Tours was hired to provide a bus between the Clinton ferry dock and the fairgrounds on Sunday. It turned out to be a good move by the Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, which stepped in after the fair canceled Island Transit service for budgetary reasons.Dan Courier, owner of Whidbey Tours and driver of the bus on Sunday, said he picked up at least 100 people at the ferry dock and took them to the fairgrounds. They were very grateful, he said. He also picked up a number of fairgoers at the high school parking lot, which served as a park & ride on Sunday.Courier's one regret was that his bus was not handicapped accessible and he had to turn away a young man in a wheelchair. I felt bad he couldn't come, he said.Turner said the fair was, for the most part, a smooth operation. However, there were the inevitable daily crises. On Wednesday, a blown electrical transformer robbed most of the fair of power for about five hours. Fire District 3 medical volunteers also got some unexpected business, first from a man who had a seizure near the horse arena, then from a woman who became dehydrated.Turner also said vandals broke into some of the small animal exhibits at the Fiddle Faddle Farm between Saturday night and Sunday morning and set a number of chickens and rabbits loose on the fairgrounds. "

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