MARIETTA - Washington County Fair Board members are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel in preparation for this year's Washington County Fair, which will go on as scheduled from Sept. 1-4 at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Marietta.
"It's going to be a struggle going in," said treasurer Sandra Hickey. "Last year really hurt us."
Two out of the four days were a complete wash out for last year's fair, with soaking rains impacting attendance.
"Monday afternoon we just stopped charging at the gate because there was nothing to offer. The same for Tuesday," Hickey said of the 2011 event.
It costs roughly $100,000 to put on the fair each year, depending on the fees for the entertainers. The ride company is also contracted at a flat rate, regardless of if they run. Last year, the fair lost about $40,000. Normal income from admissions is around $160,000.
"The admission price is what carries us, really, since we don't have major sponsors," Hickey said.
That admission price will not be going up this year to make up for last year's loss, however.
"It's going to stay at $8. We really want people to come down and enjoy it," Hickey said.
The Fourth of July Celebration at the fairgrounds brought in about $4,400 this year, which officials say is pretty average, despite the recent storms and a major heatwave that hit the area.
Something that helped the fair board climb out of a financial hole this year was a group of pipeline workers for the oil and gas industry who camped out at the fairgrounds during the winter months.
"We were so lucky to have them. We wouldn't have survived without them," said board president Frank Tucker.
Around 26 campers hooked up at the fairgrounds at a rate of $275 a month for water, sewer and electric.
The upcoming Broughton Ice Cream Social on July 22 will be held at the fairgrounds through donation of the facilities.
A grant from the Marietta Community Foundation for $5,000 was recently given to the board to help with repairs to the roof of the Junior Fair Building, though Tucker said a tree now rests on the roof following the June 29 storm.
"We'll have to have that removed and see what damage was done to the roof we just fixed," he said.
Preparations are under way for this year's fair even though Hickey said she worries about having enough start-up money.
Hickey and Tucker both said the fair board is looking for sponsors, vendors, fresh faces and fresh ideas.
"We're trying to get new board members," Tucker said. "We're down about five or six people on the board."
Tucker said he would be pleased if members of the Junior Fair Board would step up to be involved.
"I hope that we could get more of them interested," he said. "And I hope that more people will attend the fair because it is all about the kids and everything they've spent so many hours - some years even - getting ready for."