Despite a rainy opening weekend, the Fair at the PNE’s attendance has climbed back up after last year’s dismally low turnouts.
Major cuts in the prices of general admission tickets and parking, from $20 to $16, seem to be working based on the attendance during the first week of the annual Fair. In addition, children 13 years of age or under can enter the fairgrounds for free.
Other changes this year include a major cost cutting measure of closing the Fair on the first two Mondays – from 17 days to 15 days – to redistribute money into enhanced programming quality. After its packed weekends, Mondays are traditionally the slowest days in attendance for the PNE.
This year’s price changes are the latest response to the PNE’s long decline ever since much of its fairgrounds and historic fairground buildings were demolished in the late-1990s by the City of Vancouver to make way for greenery, park space and the lake.
Reduced space and flexibility at Hastings Park has meant less attractions and programming, which has in turn also brought the annual Fair much less attendance and revenue for investing in updated rides, facilities, and original programming. Its future will largely depend on a drastic reinvention and expansion of its facilities, fairgrounds, rides, exhibits, shows and original programming.
The Fair and PlayLand have also been competing with a recent surge in events and activities across the region, such as food carts, free night markets and street festivals.
In 2010, attendance at the Fair at the PNE was 937,485 before dropping to a low of 763,689 in 2012.
This year’s Fair at the PNE closes on Labour Day (Monday, Sept. 2).
Featured Image: wasme