This year, fair officials are hoping for more of the same.
“This year is going to be bigger and better,” said Hale Moss, Wilson County Fair Board president. “We’re really just hoping to get some good weather.”
The 2016 Wilson County Fair will officially open its gates Friday at 5 p.m. The fair continues through Aug. 27. This year’s theme is “We Want You at the Wilson County Fair.”
The National Weather Service extended forecast for the fair has Moss’ hopes in check. Rain is expected Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. The rest of next week, however, remains clear.
Since 2011, attendance has been steady around the 500,000-mark for each year’s duration. In that time span, 2014 was the low year with an attendance of 484,096. In 2015 that number increased to 557,702.
The highest fair attendance in the last 10 years was 2013, which featured a total attendance of 589,229.
The two Saturdays the fair is open are the busiest days. In the last 10 years, the average attendance for the fair’s opening Saturday is 91,910, and the average attendance for the fair’s closing Saturday is 92,914.
The last Saturday in 2013 marks the single highest attendance for any fair day in the last 10 years, with an attendance of 123,953.
On average in the last 10 years, Wednesday has been the least busy fair day, with an average attendance of 20,765.
The James E. Ward Agricultural Center is the soon-to-be home of a new expo center, which is currently under construction. Due to the work, the main entrance to the fair will not be open to fair traffic during this year’s fair. However, a new entrance was built to handle the traffic from Baddour Parkway. There will be an entrance from Sparta Pike at the Fiddlers Grove entrance by Daniels Market and two entrances on Peyton Road.
There will be 17 acres of additional parking available this year on Peyton Road.
This will compensate for the area around the new Expo center during the busier times, officials said. There will also be satellite parking Aug. 20 and Aug. 27, the two Saturdays that the fair is open, at Nokes-Lasater Field, home to Cumberland football and formerly Lebanon High School, at 415 Hardin Drive. It will be open from 4-11 p.m. with free bus transportation from the parking lot to the fair. Buses will load and unload on the northeast corner of the old Lebanon High School.
The Wilson County Promotions board of directors, which has held the Wilson County Fair since 1979, have planned the parking, as well as access to the fairgrounds. It was a combined effort of county and city governments with the Wilson County Fair Board to make plans possible.