Lots of dough

County fairs bring in the dollars

Trolley eyed for Saratoga County fairgrounds

Monday, March 11, 2013
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Lots of dough

A crowd watches pig races at the Saratoga County Fair last year.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
A crowd watches pig races at the Saratoga County Fair last year.

— The village of Ballston Spa is considering a trolley service from the Saratoga County fairgrounds into the community.

Increasing the flow of traffic is designed to take advantage of the large crowds the fairgrounds attract. “The interest is there to do more with the fairgrounds,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus.

The fairgrounds are already responsible for injecting more than $2.7 million in spending from outside the county into the local economy, according to estimates from a recent study commissioned by the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs. These “new dollars” are spent on things like lodging, restaurants and transportation.

The study is based on the analysis of four county fairs of various sizes, including the Washington County fair. It reviewed how many visitors came to each county’s fair and how much year-round spending, jobs and tax revenue the fairgrounds created.

This study is particularly illuminating for Saratoga County, because the wide variety of summer events can make it hard to gauge why people are coming to the area.

It is estimated that the Saratoga County fairgrounds account for 60 jobs and $122,399 in local taxes.

In Cobleskill, the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is estimated to attract about 61,000 people. During the course of a year, the fairgrounds there generate $4.5 million in spending from outside the county, are responsible for 98 jobs and rack up almost $200,000 in local taxes.

Village of Cobleskill Mayor Mark Galasso said the impact of the fair is visible during its summer run. “Hotels are busier, stores are busier, restaurants are busier,” he said. “It is one of the busier times of the year.”

Favorite day trip

While the fair isn’t a huge overnight attraction, Galasso said, it is a favorite day trip for people in neighboring counties.

“A lot of area farmers travel with their livestocks from fair to fair to fair in the general area,” he said.

The fairgrounds in Fonda, which is the county fair home for Montgomery and Fulton counties, generates a little more than $1.8 million a year in spending from outside the county, employs 40 people and generates about $81,000 in local taxes. The fair itself brings in almost 25,000 people.

The Altamont fairgrounds, which is the home of the county fair for Albany and Schenectady counties, generates more than $5.77 million in spending from outside the county annually, employs 125 people and generates more than a quarter of a million in local taxes. The annual fair brings a paid attendance of more than 77,000.

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March 11, 2013
3:51 p.m.
corckmh says...

Maybe people can park elsewhere and be trolled in too. The parking at the fair for the disabled is terrible. We've actually been there, waited in queue and then drove back down the hill because there was nowhere to park. Very disappointing!

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