Attendance Boost

MINERAL WELLS – Thanks to a week of unusually cool weather, the 2014 edition of the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition saw attendance better than what was seen for the 2013 edition.

Russ Collins, vice president of the fair board, said attendance numbers for this year have been encouraging.

“It’s been going good,” he said. “I’ve been told we’ve been ahead of last year.”

Last year was a good year as well and so far this year the attendance has been better except for one night, he said.

“We’re better off than last year,” he said. “All the bad weather seems to blowing around us. All it’s doing to us is keeping it cool – we like that.”

Collins said it was decided to make a change in the entertainment for the concerts.

“This year we had a rock act in Jackyl and we haven’t had a rock act in a long time with,” he said. “Our numbers were down a little for the past two years so we decided to try something new.”

Collins said the rock act on Friday seemed to do the trick with the best night of the year.

In addition to the format change, Collins said plans are in the works for a new fairway entrance with the building of a new fair office adjacent to the culinary and domestic arts building.

“It has been a great building, made of two trailers donated to us by DuPont years and years ago,” he said. “We bricked it up and it has been a nice building but it’s old and has termites so it has outlived its usefulness.”

When the new building is complete and if the funds are available, the old building will be removed and there will be a new entrance directly to the fairway.

“It’ll be like the entry way at Erickson Field with air conditioned ticket booths,” he said. “Usually the ticket booth people are sitting out there in 100-degree weather, it’s a week in a hot box.

“We try to improve something every year,” he said.

Pete Barrett, of Washington, W.Va., said he comes to the fair every year and there is something for the entire family.

“The kids like to come and take the rides, they also like the motorcycles and the tractor and truck pulls,” he said.

Melissa Sampson, of Elizabeth, said the attraction for her is the entertainment the fair offers.

“Last night was Jackyl and we liked it and tonight is a different person we never heard of (Cole Swindell) so we thought we’d try it out,” she said. “We come every year.”

Christy Shears, of Elizabeth, said she came for the same reasons this year, for the entertainment. When asked if the threat of rain kept her away, Shears said she did not think about the weather when she decided to go to the fair.