Updated 08/21/2012 06:17 PM
Dutchess County Fair open through Sunday
The Dutchess County Fair opened Tuesday to sunny skies and large crowds. Attendance is expected to almost double compared to last year's tropical storm shortened fair that closed before the weekend, when profits begin flowing in. YNN's John Wagner spent the day taking in the fair.
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RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- In 2010, more than 325,000 guests checked out the fair. Last year, with rain on Thursday and no weekend, fewer than 200,000 showed up, losing the fairgrounds more than a million dollars. This year, though, Mother Nature may help the fair make up for lost time.
"Forecast this year looks as good as the difficulty we had last year, so we are very optimistic that we are going to have a good fair," said Ron Varricchio, treasurer for the Dutchess County Agricultural Society, the nonprofit organization that runs the fair.
A year removed from an earthquake that shut down rides and a tropical storm that shut down the entire fair, fairgoers say it made them all the more excited about Tuesday's opening.
"Last year, we were going to come again on Sunday, but the hurricane caused the fair to close the last two days, so that was a major bummer but after that we couldn't wait to get back this year," said Brian Kent, a Red Hook resident who came with his family.
"We always look forward to it and then we couldn't come so it was pretty disappointing," said Poughkeepsie resident Colin Talvi, who won a giant snake on the midway. "Well we're here now, so it's okay."
It seems to be better than okay, drawing crowds larger than many smaller state's state fairs. Officials say the fair costs about $1.1 million to put on and that money is made back from Tuesday through Friday. The weekend brings profits and all that money goes back into the fairgrounds. Last year, there was no weekend.
"A financial disaster in that regard, so there was a lot less working capital, there was a lot less we could do to improve the grounds and maintain the infrastructure," said Ron Varricchio, who also mentioned that the tropical storm did not cause any physical damage to the grounds.
The fair is going a step further to make amends for Mother Nature by accepting any 2011 tickets left unused and some are taking them up on the offer.
"A great time to get away from work and be out here and relax with the kids," said Brian Kent.
"There's so much diversity here between food and events and of course the agriculture. That's the best part of it," said Gina Guercio-Beckmann, a Salt Point resident and 4-H mom.
Seven day forecasts predict sunny skies, 80s during the day, 60s at night. That equation equals money, money, money and a great time for all.
Regular admission is $15 for adults, with children under 12 free. The fair gates are open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sunday.
You can find more information about the fair and its events at www.DutchessFair.com.