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Ideas Coming in to Save Saline Community Fair: Updated with Reader Comments

“... Just like anything else, you continue to lose money you can’t afford to do it anymore so it goes away,” fair board director says.

Dwindling attendance and lack of state funding have cast a cloud over the future of the Saline Community Fair. (Patch file photo)
Dwindling attendance and lack of state funding have cast a cloud over the future of the Saline Community Fair. (Patch file photo)

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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DISCUSS: What are the best ways to increase attendance at the Saline Community Fair? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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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.

>>> Read the full report on the Saline Reporter.

Mark Zadvinskis January 23, 2014 at 09:13 AM
Oh no! We love taking our little kids to the fair. Each time we drive by the grounds (daily), they ask when it will be. =) Perhaps the fair, and the fair's competitions more specifically, could be promoted during the farmer's markets (or even at local grocers...sign by the Jam/ pie making supplies) to increase awareness....maybe even collect entries at the farmers market to make it easier. Promote to summer schools/ camps and provide them with special daytime class rates to come and see all of the exhibits (and dream about the rides...maybe go on a few of the simple ones with school)....then they beg and plea with their paying parents to bring them back with their "discount hand band" that is good for that night. More kids may want to go if they know their friends will be there. Best of luck and we truly hope you find a way to make it work!
Cheryl Morris January 23, 2014 at 02:16 PM
ADVERTISE--ADVERTISE--ADVERTISE!!! All local area libraries, Facebook - repeated postings, all local quilt shops, grocery stores, etc. Maybe move it to the weekend before? Many people go up north for Labor Day weekend... WE LOVE THE SALINE COMMUNITY FAIR :-)!!!
Lynn Thomas-Perry January 23, 2014 at 04:10 PM
We don't want the Fair to go away!! It's part of what makes our community great!! Changing the dates for the fair to the following week may help a lot. When school started before Labor Day, the fair was always the first week of school, this gave kids a chance to reconnect with friends after being on summer break and get together at the fair. Because the kids were already back in school most families were in town. Now that the school starts later, families that would normally go to fair are away for the holiday. Changing the date to the week following Labor Day may help increase attendance. Also, for the last couple of years the carnival company has been different, maybe that has had an inpact to. Making it more affordable for families may help. We Love the Fair and want it to survive!!!
Ann Stofflet January 24, 2014 at 04:44 PM
We moved to Saline recently, and really only see some road signs and a few local ads in the local paper advertising the fair. I think the fair needs more exposure, not only in Saline, but in Ann Arbor, Ypsi, Chelsea and Milan. Good entertainment is a draw, for sure, and the pricing on rides and games could be better. We never see any call for entries for the contests, so that's an issue that could be fixed. Making it either earlier or later is good, too. This year, we had that awful heatwave, which made things tough when we attended during the day...dangerously hot. A lot more could be done to encourage attendance...maybe a jont marketing contest or game with Bush's? Similar to the Winter festivities. We'd hate to see the fair cancelled. We were very disappointed that the Winter fest was cancelled this years, as we enjoyed it last year. These kinds of Community activities encourage a greater sense of community, very importantimportant to current and potentially new residents and businesses.

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