The El Paso County Fair saw higher attendance this year, but Commissioner Amy Lathen wants to make changes, although she wouldn’t reveal her ideas until she talks to the county staff.
“We were down in the number of vendors this year,” Lathen said. “A drop like that keeps vendors away. That concerns me for next year.”
Preliminary figures show the weeklong July event drew 25,112 people, public services director Tim Wolken said. That’s about 7 percent higher than last year.
Lathen noted auto racing has helped the fair’s attendance.
A high of 39,504 people attended in 2001.
Lathen said sales declined this year but couldn’t provide details. Wolken said he would release more information after he meets with commissioners.
It’s crucial the fair at least break even, because it hasn’t received a taxpayer subsidy since 2004 and isn’t likely to in the future in light of the county’s budget crunch.
The fair was the first since Lathen helped overhaul the Resource Development Association, a nonprofit that holds the liquor license for the fair. The RDA had only two board members before one passed away last year.
“I worked hard with the last remaining member of RDA to put together a new structure,” she said.
Lathen said the changes will prevent cash discrepancies and vendor tracking issues revealed in an audit of 2007 operations. The 2008 audit is under way, she said.
“I have concerns about the fair,” Lathen said, “and I want to see some things changed so that we can make sure and preserve the fair.”
Wolken will give a full report to commissioners on Sept. 3.