WATSONVILLE—Although Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Manager Dave Kegebein had not yet sat down and pored over the attendance numbers from the weekend’s County Fair, he was confident in saying Tuesday that this year’s event was “absolutely the best Fair ever.”
“Everything went really smoothly and we were absolutely maxed out at parking every day,” Kegebein said. “Everything went really well.”
Kegebein said that although they were short on staff, the five-day festivities went off without a hitch. He said most vendors reported strong sales throughout the week. Even he found time during the event to spend some cash on the fried delicacies featured at the annual event.
“This fat boy never misses a meal,” Kegebein joked. “But it was fun to see everyone having a good time … That’s what I enjoy doing [during the Fair]: watching the people. And they all looked like they were having fun.”
The Fair was canned last year because of the pandemic, and this year’s rendition wasn’t officially greenlit until the summer when the number of people falling ill with Covid-19 started to decline. While the Fair was a no-go, the Fairgrounds were plenty busy over the last year. It served as a key location for emergency response efforts, hosting pandemic-related food distributions and vaccine clinics as well as an evacuation center for CZU Lightning Complex survivors.
Kegebein said that his team worked quickly to adjust to the evolving pandemic-related precautions and showcase the entertainment, food and displays the Fair normally features all while juggling other responsibilities.
“We can’t do it without all the volunteers,” he said. “It takes a lot of people to put this event on.”
Kegebein said the strong turnout for this year’s event was likely due to the fact that people were stuck at home for long periods of time over the past 18 months.
“At the end of the day, people want to get out of the house and have some fun,” he said.