County fair grows economy

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

PROCTORVILLE — Each year the Lawrence County Fair brings in thousands of people into the eastern end of the county. They flock to the fair for the entertainment, the rides, the games and the traditional fair goodies like funnel cakes and freshly shaken lemonade.

But, it’s not just vendors at the fair that reap the financial benefits from the throngs of people. The entire area can see a bulge in their wallets when the annual event opens its doors, according to some locals.

“It really brings in a considerable amount of traffic into the area,” explained Proctorville Mayor Jim Buchanan. “They come to the restaurants, the gas stations, the grocery stores. They really bring in a lot of additional business.”

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He said the bypass through the village has eased traffic woes and has made fair time a little bit more enjoyable for motorists. It has also made getting in and out of the businesses in the community easier.

“We used to dread it (fair traffic), but now since the bypass came through, its not bad at all,” Buchanan said. “It’s been much better for everybody, including the businesses.”

Rob Johnston, of Crown City, comes in town

each year to peddle his wares at the fair. He said the fair is his biggest moneymaker of the year.

“It is where I make most of my money. I go to flea markets and other small festivals and fairs, but the fair in Proctorville helps me put food on my table year round,” Johnston.

He sells produce and his wife makes jellies and jams for their stand.

The fair also serves as the county agricultural society’s lifeblood, according to Doug Clark, the society’s president. He said nearly 98 percent of the group’s operating budget comes from money generated fair week.

“It’s a big boost to us. It’s the biggest attraction each year in the county. If we don’t make it (money) during the fair, then we know it’s going to be hard for us that year,” Clark said.

He said rain and other unforeseen circumstances that hamper fair receipts can lead to fewer improvement projects at the fairgrounds. Currently, the society is hoping to update the bathrooms and is also looking at electrical upgrades at the facility.

Clark said the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H groups at the fair pocket big bucks for the livestock they have worked so hard to raise. Last year, the auctions brought in more than $100,000. He said many businesses in the community spend a lot of money supporting the youngsters.