SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Attendance numbers released Wednesday by the Santa Maria Fairpark for the recently held Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival show it was a very successful return for the longtime event.
The festival took place over three days from April 29-May 1.
After the pandemic wiped out the 2020 festival, and forced the 2021 festival into a modified drive-through format, this year's show marked the first full-fledged in-person festival since 2019.
According to the Fairpark, Saturday's attendance drew a 25 percent increase over 2019 attendance numbers, while Sunday's attendance rose to a 50 percent increase compared to three years ago.
"The Fairpark team is overjoyed with the positive attendance from the community," said Fairpark CEO Caitlin Miller. "We are thankful for the many hands that helped to put on this event and our generous sponsors. We are happy our doors are open again and are looking forward to many more events in 2022."
Fairpark management also said there was a significant increase in beverage sales, likely aided by the warm sunny weather enjoyed by festival visitors during the weekend.
In addition, many vendors reported strong sales and have already indicated they are looking to returning back for the Santa Barbara County Fair.
"All of us thought it was a great success," said Rebecca Barks, Fairpark Public Information/Marketing. "We were really pleased with our turnout. We didn't know what to expect. We didn't have our commercial booths and the buildings open, so we knew were kind of going to get a hit that way, but still, just to see the positive feedback from the vendors, positive feedback from our admissions, really looking at it is a win for all."
Looking ahead, the Fairpark is now gearing up for two large-scale events over the next two months, including the fair.
First up, the West Coast Kustoms Car Show, which is scheduled for July 27-29. This year's show marks the 40th anniversary of the popular event, which annually draws hundreds of one-of-a-kind classic cars from around the nation.
"In two weeks on Memorial Day weekend, we've got our West Coast Kustoms, which is a huge event for this area," said Barks. "It brings in a tremendous amount of tourism into the Santa Maria Valley. It not only helps us here at the Fairpark, it really helps our hotel industry, our food industry because it drives a lot of people here."
In July, the much-anticipated return of the Santa Barbara County Fair, which has not been held in-person since 2019, will take place July 13-17.
This year’s fair theme is “A Salute to Agriculture.” Pre-sale tickets will be available for purchase online at santamariafairpark.com or at select pre-sale outlets from June 10-July 10.