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By Ethan Kibbe
WARREN, Pa. (Erie News Now) – After surviving 2020 with no fair, Warren Fair Board President Dale Bliss thought he and his team had come through the pandemic in great shape.
“The 2021 fair was historically one of the best fairs we’ve ever had,” he said. “Both financially and attendance wise, we were on a bit of a roll, we thought.”
But late last year, just months after their best fair ever, Bliss took a call that stopped that momentum in its tracks.
“Our longtime time carnival company merged with another one and told us they wouldn’t be back, so we put a team together, and every day since we’ve been trying to replace that carnival, and we just aren’t able to do so,” he said.
Bliss says the pandemic decimated the industry, and they’ve called every ride company in the country, but no matter the size, no one has room for another fair.
“Pre-covid, there were about 600 carnival companies in the United States,” he said. “Post covid, because of financial constraints, wages, things like that, now there are only 200. ”
Losing the rides is a huge financial blow, and although the fair board will find other attractions, Bliss says ride revenue is impossible to replace.
“I would expect we will still have the carnival games and the food, and there will be other attractions to mitigate not having those rides,” Bliss said.
But he says they have some money saved, and they’ll get through this year as they plan some huge events for the years ahead.
“We’ve got about a half dozen carnivals of what we would deem good quality that are waiting to come and play for 2023 and beyond, so the future is bright,” he said.
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