'Money' behind putting on the fair

By: Olga Michail
By: Olga Michail

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's a family affair, but if you're bringing your entire family to the fair, you know the dollars can add up. But what you might not know: where exactly your money goes.

So we decided to look into how much it costs to put on the fair; from people helping out, to venders bringing in some of your favorite fair foods at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair.

“I would say typically today (Saturday), and we were here last year- we spent 50 to 75 dollars, mostly on food and rides,” said Northern Wisconsin State Fair attendee Shawn Klass, who came to the fair with his wife and daughter.

“Two years ago we lost $20,000. Last year’s we made $60,000. I know a lot of people are thinking, wow they're really making money up there,” said the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Executive Director Rusty Volk.

Volk said the math is not that simple. It costs between $500,000 to $600,000 to put on a fair each year.

“We take care of entertainment, all the free entertainment; all that is taken care through our office, and that's where the expense of that half-a-million comes in putting on the fair,” explained Volk.

Out of last year's profit, $25,000 was put aside for a rainy day fund that will support fairs to come.

“The fair is community owned, and if we don't have a rainy day fund we're not being steward of the grounds we have at the fair today,” added Volk.

And Volk says the dollars at the fair help fuel local economy.

“We like to buy local, to support small business. We're a small business ourselves; we turn that back to the community,” said the owner of Momzo & Bonzo Concessions, Paul Opdahl.

Vendors said after a flat fee to be at the far, and a 15 percent they give away from profits, the expenses add up.

“We travel a lot so, transportation fees, tires, fuel, yearly insurance,” explained Opdahl.

With many people attending the fair this year venders say they hope to come out a few bucks ahead.

But many families say dollars put away at the fair are money well spent.

“It's definitely worth the investment, I mean if it's something that our family looks forward to coming through every year it's a chance for us to spend time together as well, it's definitely worth it,” added Klass.

On opening day Wednesday the fair was greeted by 12,000 attendees, which is a record number for an opening day.


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