A total of 93,527 people walked through the gates of the Maui Fair from Thursday to Sunday, about 800 more people than last year, said the managing director of the annual event at the War Memorial Complex on Tuesday.
"Overall, successful for the participants," said Sherri Grimes in assessing the 90th Maui Fair.
Some food vendors experienced "record" sales, and others logged "satisfactory" business, Grimes said. There were no complaints from the food vendors, all nonprofit organizations in the community, she added.
This year's attendance total topped last year's, which was about 92,700. This year's total was about the same as the 2009 fair but below the 96,083 attending the 2008 event before the grip of the Great Recession.
In deference to the tough economic times, Grimes said that fair officials kept prices that they had control over, including the entrance and parking fees and rides, the same as last year. Food vendors set their own prices, she added.
Unemployment is coming down but people "are still catching up," Grimes said.
On Sunday, the last day of the fair, the rides in the Joy Zone stayed open until 11:30 p.m. - a half-hour past the scheduled 11 p.m. closing - to allow people in line to get their last ride on the Wave Swinger or the Cliff Hanger.
"Everybody got the rides they were standing in line for," she said.
Looking to the future and the centennial fair in 10 years, Grimes said everything will be on the table for review when fair officials begin planning for next year's fair and the ones to follow.
She noted that lifestyles and the people on Maui have changed through the years, and Maui Fair officials will be looking "at what we can do" to improve the annual event.
Grimes noted that for the 50th State Fair, E.K. Fernandez Shows borrows rides and puts them up at the expansive Aloha Stadium site. Adding a new ride in the tight confines of the War Memorial Complex would upset the site plan and may force fair officials to eliminate a ride to add a new one, Grimes said.
Instead of adding rides, the answer may lie in bringing on other attractions in the events arena, she said.
"I keep on shopping," said Grimes, who will visit other fair-type events for ideas.
She will be looking for attractions that will bring excitement and uniqueness to the fair to make it "that much more special" and to offer things that "can't be experienced on Maui day to day."
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.