Crowds drawn to Big Fresno Fair by new attractions, food, discounts

Fairgoers pack part of the midway at the Big Fresno Fair.
Fairgoers pack part of the midway at the Big Fresno Fair. jwalker@fresnobee.com

The Big Fresno Fair treated hundreds of thousands of visitors to the largest number of new attractions and food in recent history.

Attendance during the 12-day event, which concluded Sunday, was 608,269, a 5.3 percent increase from 2012, the last time the fair was held over 12 days. Last year’s attendance at the 13-day fair was 666,621, which was the most since 1991.

The crowds helped concession sales increase 8 percent over last year when comparing 12 days, fair management said. And wagering at the live horse racing was up to $13.8 million this year compared to $13.1 million in 2014.

The success of the 132nd edition of the Big Fresno Fair was attributed to new attractions and food, a strong entertainment lineup that included a sold-out Gabriel Iglesias show, discount opportunities and a solid horse racing meet.

“Our team worked incredibly hard to put on the best fair possible this year, bringing in a variety of new attractions and creating meaningful discount opportunities that not only provided savings, but gave back to our community,” said John Alkire, the fair’s chief executive officer, in a news release.

New attractions included Egypt’s Wild Side, Pollywood Bird Show, Wild West Turkey Stampede and the BMX Pro Bike Show. The $2.8 million Fresno County Historical Museum, a new two-story building, highlighted important artifacts that helped shape the area’s history. The Jacobsen-Laub family of farmers in Easton on Oct. 14 presented the fair with $300,000, the fair’s largest family gift ever, to help support the museum.

608,269 number of people who attended the 2015 Big Fresno Fair

On the tastier side of the event, 20 new food items were sold, including deep-fried butter, Fruit Loop popcorn, pesto fries and a deep-fried SlimFast bar – of which 3,000 bars were sold.

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to come out and see us this year,” Alkire said. “Your smiling faces, comments and photos shared are the reason we work so hard to make The Big Fresno Fair a little bit bigger and a little bit better each year.”

BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee

2015 Fun Fair Statistics

  • 2,377 animals on exhibit
  • 678 animals were sold at the two Junior Livestock auctions
  • $11,565 price of most expensive animal sold – a steer
  • 36 pregnant sheep were brought to the fair
  • 58 lambs were born on site
  • 167 homemade quilts were displayed
  • 717 horses ran in the races
  • 91 races were held
  • 500 kids participated in Wool Riders Only Mutton Bustin’
  • 90 cases of smoked turkey legs sold at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ
  • 150 pounds of Fried Gator Bites on a stick sold at Southern Comfort Kitchen
  • 6,300 garlic chicken and veggie kabobs sold at Garlicky’s
  • More than 43,000 pounds of flour and 12,000 pounds of cinnamon used at Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls
  • More than 2,000 six-packs of Cinnamon Rolls to go were sold
  • 5,000 bacon-wrapped pickles and 7,000 Krispy Kreme donuts were sold at Chicken Charlie