The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

November 15, 2006

’06 State Fair had $8.9 million economic impact on Greenbrier

LEWISBURG — The 2006 State Fair of West Virginia had an $8.9 million economic impact on Greenbrier County, according to a report released by fair officials.

The visitor profile and spending analysis, compiled by Enigma Research Corporation of Toronto, revealed the state fair attracted more than 200,000 visitors and employed the equivalent of 95 full-time jobs. Most of the jobs were in the food, entertainment and accommodations sectors, the report said.

Out of the $8.9 million impact to the county, tourists spent $6.9 million during their stay and an additional $2 million was generated from the operation of the fair, such as its carnival and ticket sales from grand stand events.

“It is tremendously gratifying to document the huge financial impact of our event on our county,” state fair manager Marline Pierson-Jolliffe said Wednesday. “I knew the economic impact was tremendous and now I hope others will begin to understand and respect what the annual fair does for this community.”

Jolliffe said the study only focused on the economic impact of the 10-day fair and would have “increased significantly” had the study included all of its yearly events. The last economic impact study was conducted in 1992 and said the state fair had a statewide $9.8 million impact and a 50-mile radius impact of $5.3 million. Recently, the fair returned to its nine-day format after experimenting with a 10-day format the past three years.

Although the nonprofit doesn’t release any of its financial records to the public, Jolliffe said the fair operates on a “very thin” profit margin.

“In the last five years, when it is all said and done, if the fair is in the black by $40,000 or $50,000, then I would consider that a decent year,” she said.

The report also indicated the fair generates $1.3 million in across-the-board taxes from fair-related spending. More than $643,000 was paid in federal taxes, $524,000 in state taxes and $136,000 in local taxes. The top three attractions were food (80 percent), midway (64 percent), and free entertainment (64 percent).

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