DOSWELL, Va. (WFXR) – The 2023 State Fair of Virginia broke records during their 10-day event schedule in the months of Sept. and early Oct.
This year’s theme, “Your Fair, Your Way,” greeted over 210,000 fairgoers throughout the course of a week, including setting a new attendance milestone on Saturday, Sept. 30 by reaching capacity for the first time in the fair’s history. This was impressive for the state fair, especially with wet start that closed the fair early on the first Saturday of the event.
“The tropical storm on the first Saturday led to a natural shift of attendance to the final weekend with perfect weather,” explained Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “We worked incredibly hard across the operation to serve our guests with a high level of customer service.”
One of the fair’s longstanding traditions, the Giant Veggie Weigh-Off, saw a world record broken for the heaviest butternut squash. Jason Loris of Rappahannock County weighed his squash in at 131.4 pounds.
In addition to the fun and entertainment, this year’s state fair continued to support youth education through charitable efforts. According to the State Fair, this year’s fair raised over $137,000 for nonprofits that support youth in the community. On top of that, the annual Sale of Champions and Black Tie & Boots events, as week as the Ben Risney chainsaw carvings auction collectively raised over $136,000 for the State Fair of Virginia Scholarship program.
Additionally, on Sept. 26 and 27, fairgoers received a discounted admission by making food donations. Over two days, fairgoers donated 1,418 pounds of canned food, 215 pounds of school supply items, and 59 pairs of new winter gloves. The items were donated to Caroline County food banks and schools.
The fair also partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to hold the inaugural SFVA Crafters for Children online auction. Sales of donated handcrafted items raised over $1,040 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation and the fair’s scholarship program.
“In the fair industry, success is often measured by attendance, but I like to measure our success based on our service to the community and our customers,” noted Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “There is great joy in providing opportunities for youth to excel and compete on the ‘big stage’ known as the State Fair of Virginia.”