When it comes to boosting the local economy, the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is worth some $1.7 million.
That's based in part on a New York State Association of Agriculture Fairs analysis of four upstate fairs by Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs.
Camoin Associates used data from the Dutchess, Erie, Jefferson and Washington County Fairs to estimate the impact of 35 state fairs.
For Cobleskill, Camoin calculates the Fair's impact to be $4.5 million in new sales, 98 new jobs, and $199,000 in tax revenues.
If only that were the case, said Fair President Doug Cater.
After spending time analyzing the report, Mr. Cater said it's overly optimistic-in part because it bases its findings on a paid attendance of 61,000.
"I don't think people realize that its really 50-50," he said. "Half of our attendance is paid. The rest is not."
Mr. Cater estimates paid attendance at the 2012 Fair at 23,000.
Based on that and applying Camoin's formula, he puts the Fair's impact at $1,702,445 in new sales, 37 jobs, and $75,090 in sales tax revenues.
"I think that's a lot more accurate picture of the Fair's impact," he said.
"We are an economic engine-the nine days of the Fair we have 160 people on our payroll. Normally it's 8-10. But the Camoin figures just aren't realistic."
While both the consultants' and the Fair's economic impact figures are based on attendance numbers, Mr. Cater said the Cobleskill Fair has been hit especially hard by the NYSAAF's sale of passes good at all of the state's fairs.
"Last year, one-third of those tickets were sold right here in Schoharie County," Mr. Cater said. "And it cost us $39,000 in revenue."
That's because the state passes, which are passed around from family member to family member, are cheaper than the Cobleskill Fair's season passes.
"We've been hit the worst and our state association knows it," Mr. Cater said.
• • •
This year's Fair will be an eight-day run, from Saturday, July 27-Saturday, August 3.
New attractions will include shows featuring lions and tigers as well as dock-diving dogs and pig racing.
Directors are hoping to put together a parade and fireworks for Wednesday, which will be Schoharie County Appreciation Day.
Other changes include separate tents for entertainment and beer, and along with season passes, four-day passes.
The first non-Fair event at the Fairgrounds will be April 7 with the Amish horse auction followed by the Schoharie County Maple Festival April 27.