BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer email@example.com
Whether it was the weather, the music acts or the corn dogs, attendance at the 2013 Kern County Fair was its highest in nearly two decades.
The 12-day fair attracted 454,595 people, a 21 percent increase over 2012 and the most since nearly 462,000 attended in 1994.
According to figures released Monday by Kern County Fair Board CEO Mike Olcott at the board's monthly meeting, fair numbers improved significantly across the board from last year.
Concessions were up 6 percent, although specific numbers won't be available for at least a month. Additionally, 15 percent more cans of food -- about 4,500 pounds worth -- were collected for the Community Action Partnership of Kern. And still exhibits such as jams, jellies and minerals along with livestock exhibits all had more exhibitors.
The first weekend of the fair -- Sept. 20-22 -- set a three-day attendance record, with more than 162,000 people. Olcott credited performers Zendaya, Jo Dee Messina and Starship with Mickey Thomas for bringing in the large crowd.
Livestock auction sales for 2013 totaled more than $1.9 million, a 34 percent increase over the previous year.
A third of that total came from an anonymous person who bought $694,000 worth of animals from the junior exhibitors and then donated more than 97,000 pounds of meat to Community Action Partnership of Kern.
An unusually large group of about 40 high school ag teachers and parents attended the meeting. Most were there to express frustration with the fair's livestock auction process and what they felt was the board's livestock subcommittee's longstanding lack of communication with them.
"As an ag teacher you're asked to represent the best interests of your students," said Clay Freeman, an ag teacher for the past nine years at Foothill High School.
"When you don't have an opportunity to provide input into how the fair is run, it makes it very difficult to work between students, parents and fair administrators."
Freeman and others asked the board to facilitate more dialog and clearer communication in the months leading up to the fair.
Board President Nancy Wheeler-Smith said it would be considered.
In other business, Olcott told the board that the $1 minimum wage increase that will go into effect in July 2014 as part of the state's move to raise the rate to $10 an hour by 2016, will cost the fair an additional $65,000 in wages.