Saline Community Fair board members are discussing ways to boost attendance at the annual celebration after dwindling attendance over the last two years.
The fair has been losing money, primarily due to a $20,000 in state funding have limited premiums paid to exhibitors at the fair, according to a story in the Saline Reporter.
In 2009, funds from the state to match premiums were eliminated as a part of budget cuts implemented by then Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Six fairs in Michigan have gone out of business since then and the Saline Community Fair could join them if ideas to boost revenue aren’t generated.
The fair is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26-Sept. 1, but organizers said its future remains in jeopardy at a meeting Tuesday.
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“We’re to the point now where we’re planning but we’re continuing to lose money,” fair board director Kevin Ernst said. “So obviously, just like anything else, you continue to lose money you can’t afford to do it anymore so it goes away. That’s what we did not want to have happen.”
To keep the fair alive, more people need to come through the gates, he said.
Attendance has been steadily decreasing over the years – from 19,000 in 2011 to 18,000 in 2012 and 15,000 last year.
The Saline Community Fair, a celebration of the community’s agricultural roots, has been going on since 1936.
Longtime Saline resident and fair exhibitor Kathy Van Buren said its an event that makes the community special.
“It’s like supporting your community,” she said, but she admitted “it’s kind of sad when you enter strawberry jam and there are two entries.”
Those attending the meeting this week broke into groups to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the fair and discuss ways to make it more vibrant.