LYNDEN - Fair officials blamed a week of mercurial weather for a 6.5 percent drop in attendance at this year's Northwest Washington Fair.
The six-day fair opened Aug. 11 with sweltering heat followed by record rainfall midweek.
"If you look at the attendance on a day-by-day basis, it seems to be strictly weather related," fair manager Jim Baron said. "The two days the weather was nice, we were actually ahead of last year's attendance. The biggest drops were the days we had most of the rain. It definitely seemed to correlate to the weather."
Overall attendance at the grandstand was down as well. Baron said part of that dip was because fewer people bought day-of tickets for shows when the weather was rainy. But fair officials are still evaluating why ticket sales for those shows were down. It can be difficult to figure out which acts will draw the most crowds for the fair, Baron said. Of this year's performers - Huey Lewis and The News, Gary Allan and Collective Soul - he thought Huey Lewis was the favorite.
"Classic rock is always popular here," he said. "We definitely will be looking at classic rock again."
This was the first year that the Lynden rodeo was held in the middle of fair week, rather than the following weekend. While that meant more contestants could participate, it didn't translate into more ticket sales for the rodeo.
"We were a little disappointed because ticket sales were a little light for the rodeo as well as the concerts," Baron said.
Though planning for next year's fair has yet to begin, Baron said there was no indication that the rodeo would be separate from the fair next year.
Animal attractions seemed to be the big draw at this year's fair, with plenty of people getting rides at the Camel Safari and standing-room only at the wildlife shows of fair newcomer Predators of the Heart.
Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.