Fairs & Festivals

Fair officials hope for healthy attendance on final day

PALMETTO -- Manatee County fairgoers enjoyed a sunny, near-perfect day Sunday on the fair’s final day.

With mild temperatures and a cerulean-blue, nearly cloudless sky, crowds enjoyed rides, races, food and fun to cap off this year’s run at the fairgrounds in Palmetto.

“It just depends on today; we could edge out last year,” said Fair Manager Daniel West.

The number to beat is 145,900, the final attendance figure for last year. He said this year’s numbers would be available late today.

West was optimistic because this year, even though the weather was cold early on, the fair had had enthusiastic attendance at some of its entertainment events.

Particularly popular was a show featuring The Band Perry, a country group that saw their star rise in the record industry in 2010.

“We did luck out, since we signed them up in May,” explained Ina Baden, the fair’s entertainment coordinator.

“Every once in awhile, the stars align just right,” laughed West.

Other popular events included the performance of a high school drum corps, featuring units from five local high schools; a petting zoo, and an aerial high-wire thrill show called “Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean,” West said.

The pirates, better known as “The Sensational Murcias,” did tricks atop a “Wheel of Death,” in pirate costumes.

“My kids like the pirates,” explained Walter Murcia, 44, of Myakka City, a member of a family of circus performers, who developed the act along with his wife, Victoria, 34, and sons, Tony, 10, and Alex, 12.

As performers, they have been all over the world to places such as Japan, Europe, Canada and Mexico; but they loved working so close to home, Walter Murcia said.

A couple of days were awfully cold, but overall, the weather did cooperate, said Jamey Wensel, 44, of Dayton, Ohio, who sold apple dumplings, ice cream and other goodies at Frozen Foods on the fair midway.

“It was good; we stayed busy,” he said. “The shows helped me out. I like the fair, it’s a good fair.”

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.