We're probably done with this topic now, but I had to step away from the computer for a week, so I thought I'd follow up. I do appreciate attempts to support local music. I really do. This move seems like a win for local music. But a win for the fair? I'm not sure that case has been made. Last year we got lots of numbers on how much the fair had lost on Dorton and how many tickets were sold. This year it's a lot more vague. The fair didn't save money with this new entertainment plan. It just lost less, or at least we're told it lost less. The numbers are a lot less firm this year because we're told that this year's 200K included stages that last year's numbers didn't account for. Why not supply those numbers if they're important to making the case? Also, without ticket sales, it's difficult to make any correlation between the music and fair attendance. Although I don't think anyone tried to make that correlation last year, either. Increased attendance is the unproven theory behind spending that much on entertainment. When you change the story to not actually caring about how the entertainment affects attendance, then doesn't the question become, "Why are we spending 200K on an entertainment budget if we're not expecting a corresponding return on attendance?" As for spending less money on entertainment to spend more money on other attendance-boosters, that seems like a faulty premise. It was never either/or. The fair regularly operates at a profit, so it already has money to spend on other attendance-boosters. It shouldn't need to raid the entertainment budget to fund a change that should increase profits.
Basically: Local music at the fair-- I like it. I'm not sure how it helps the fair. Music entertainment still loses money, and it sounds like fewer people are coming to enjoy the music. My suggestion: Fill Dorton with vendors of fried cheese, so I don't have wait in the long line at the one fried cheese vendor they have. I'll pay an extra $5 for a fried cheese express pass. If Spider Bags will play while I eat my fried cheese: $10.
So I loved the music line up this year, but I'm not sure state fair "gambled on tar heel talent." It seems like what they gambled on was the idea that people don't come to the fair for the music. For years they've been trying to bring in big enough names to entice people to the fair. They didn't make money on the concerts, but the goal was always to get people into the fair. This year they may have filled Dorton a couple of nights, but on other nights it seems like attendance was pretty low. I was there Friday, and the music was great. The crowd was enthusiastic. The crowd was also, for a Dorton show, pretty small. I'm not complaining about the music because for me this year's line-up was great. Probably for the average Indy reader it was great. But for the average fair attendee? I think we'd need to see some attendance numbers to back that up. There may have been record attendance at the fair this year, but if there wasn't record attendance in Dorton, then it's going to be hard to make that correlation. The Indy seems to take an odd view of the fair. They seemed to, in the past, be criticizing the financial aspects of the concerts, but now it seems clear that what they're criticizing is that the fair hasn't been booking acts that Indy readers love. Last year the criticism was that the fair spent 350,000 and was still in the hole 195,000 when ticket sales were added in. This year the fair is praised for spending 200,000 and getting no return on that money. I, personally, have no quarrel Deep South's bookings. The amount of time and money I've spent at their establishment and their other events would put a lie to that very quickly. But I do have a problem with how inconsistently the issue of fair entertainment is handled by the Indy. Last year the Indy reported a "loss" of 195,000, and this year there was a "win" of only spending 200,000. If that 5,000 increase over last year can be tied to higher attendance, then that is a win, but this article doesn't really make that case.
I think it's a shame to use Bruce's death to argue against something he believed in so strongly, especially given that the way I heard the accident described, it had nothing to do with "taking the lane."
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