ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The West Texas Fair and Rodeo is setting records for paid attendance in 2021.
After a down year in 2020 due to the pandemic, the fair and rodeo rebounded nicely.
Executive Director and Vice President of the Expo Center Rochelle Johnson said that they nearly doubled their profit margins in several major categories.
Since 2020, they saw a 53% increase in gross paid gate attendance, a 37% increase in sales from the rodeo and a 98% increase in their earnings from the carnival.
“It was a tremendous year,” Johnson said. “It was actually a record-breaking year.”
Johnson said that she has never seen increases like that over her time working at the Expo Center, but admitted she was concerned that having the fair last year would flatten out the increase.
Russell and Sally Mullins of the Vittle Barn have been serving food at the fair for nearly 20 years, and said they have never been so busy.
“We’ve actually run out four nights of the first seven here,” Russell said.
Russell said that they sold 325 turkey legs the first Saturday that the fair was open, and said he had to smoke close to 220 a day to keep up with the crowds.
Sally Mullins shared this photo on Facebook of how long the lines would get during the fair. She also said that some people would wait close to an hour to get food from them.
While the Vittle Barn set their own records, Johnson said that this was just the beginning and they were looking to improve on those numbers next year.
She said they will be looking to improve on the live entertainment, as well as bring back old favorites like the pig races.
Johnson also said that they will be bringing back the Exotic Animal Sensory Room for the special needs kids in 2022.