Since Wednesday, the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo has been taking place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. This year has been the first “full fair experience” since 2019.
“The attendance has been phenomenal. Overall it has been up 50% since 2019. Specifically, attendance was up 30% on Wednesday, 60% on Thursday and 70% on Friday from 2019. It has felt full the entire time,” Ben Sprague, CEO of Earl Warren Showgrounds, told the News-Press on Saturday.
“The atmosphere has been exciting. The funnel cake line is always long, but people are willing to wait because it is worth it. The most popular rides include the Giant Wheel, the Hawaiian Express, the Turbo (for older kids) and the Wacky Worm,” said Mr. Sprague.
Mr. Sprague’s eight year-old son Seeley told the News-Press that his favorite ride was the Star Ship and his favorite food was cotton candy.
“I think the attendance is a highlight but also seeing all different parts of our community come out together, young and old of all different races and cultures sitting on benches together and screaming and laughing on rides,” said Mr. Sprague.
“A personal highlight for me was watching my three-year-old on the boats at kitty land,” said Mr. Sprague.
Another highlight of the fair has been the three-week old nursing piglets. They have been popular with adults and children alike.
A new aspect of the fair has been the animal displays and presentations, shifting away from 4-H competitions in previous years due to a declining interest.
“It has gone really well. People are into it,” said Mr. Sprague when asked about the popularity of the new animal presentations. “The petting zoo is full of kids. All in all it has been received really well and it is a nice free feature of the fair. It is something I would like to build on because it is an opportunity to showcase animal husbandry and our farming roots to the community. It has been fun.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Sprague about the popularity of the old car previously owned by Clark Gable in the exhibit hall. “It’s hard to gauge because there isn’t a line to see it. It is really cool with a great blue color, a deep color that comes from a vintage car. It has been popular,” said Mr. Sprague.
“The hypnotist and all the bands have been appreciated, as well as a juggler on a unicycle and a magician. We have two magicians doing smaller group tricks as well,” said Mr. Sprague.
Seeley, Mr. Sprague’s son, said the magician was his favorite.
Today is the last day of the fair and expo.
“We open at 11 a.m. and it’s a great day to come early with the kids,” said Mr. Sprague.
The fair will end at 10 p.m. on Sunday.
“We continue to build on our success the last couple years of making the fair really inclusive and enjoyable and we look forward to doing it again,” said Mr. Sprague.