Salem Fair 2021 still welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors in spite of opening night shooting

Roanoke Valley News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Despite a shooting on opening night, a few rain showers, and some post-pandemic uncertainty, the Salem Fair still closed out its 33rd year at the Taliaferro Complex Sunday night with very steady attendance and revenue, according to organizers.

“Our fair fans are very loyal, and their loyalty was tested this year more than ever,” said Wendy Delano, Salem Director of Civic Facilities. “We appreciate everyone working with us on the necessary updates to our admission policy and security measures, after the fair was already underway, and for not letting a senseless incident define the region’s most popular summer attraction.”

While attendance is not tracked through direct admission, fair officials say the 2021 edition of America’s Largest Free Gate Fair once again welcomed several hundred thousand visitors from across Virginia’s Blue Ridge region between June 30 and July 11.

In fact, according to a statement shared by Salem officials, July 4 was the second busiest day in Salem Fair’s history and July 3 was the fifth busiest day all-time.

“It was obvious that people were glad to get back on the midway after missing the cancelled fair in 2020,” said Carey Harveycutter, Salem Fair Manager. “Some of our concessionaires ran out of food because demand was so great. When you are running out of popcorn and pork chops on a stick you know people are spending significant funds and enjoying themselves.”

In addition, Roanoke Valley non-profits once again benefitted from the Salem Fair’s promotions in 2021.

For example, the Roanoke Rescue Mission received more than 1,000 pairs of socks from patrons; nearly 4,000 pounds of non-perishable food were donated to the Salem-Roanoke County Food Pantry; and the Roanoke Valley chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace will receive a donation from Northwest Ace Hardware stores thanks to advance sales of the Megapass unlimited ride ticket.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers say the Blue-Ribbon exhibits — under the direction of Melissa de Pineda — were restricted to just first place displays this year, but the winners received more exposure by having their entries displayed in the Salem Civic Center’s main arena.

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