SAN JOSE — As far as fairs go, Santa Clara County’s annual incarnation isn’t exactly the belle of the ball.
There’s no line for a footlong corn dog or even a cold beer. And fans of five-ticket carnival rides can have their pick; the only wait is getting a couple more like-minded folks to share the thrill. In a snapshot early Sunday afternoon, the twirling Zipper was running with just a single tooth occupied out of a dozen available; four out of 16 bumper cars made for a mild mash-up; the carousel had three jockeys while 17 horses stampeded unreined.
But organizers said the 76-year-old affair — which in its ’70s heydays would bring in 250,000 fun-seekers — is on the upswing after hitting a low point nearly a decade ago.
“There was a nice uptick in 2007, but with the recession this turned into a youth animal show only, with no rides or vendors,” said fairgrounds spokesman Steve Stagnaro. “It was free, and we had about 5,000 people coming for three years starting in 2008.”
This year was the first to open on Thursday with “dollar day” — admission slashed 90 percent off. The result? A 330 percent increase in gate sales that day, up to 5,547 on traditionally the least popular day of the fair.
Stagnaro said the headlining Greg Kihn Band also contributed to that, and there was a resultant drop in Friday’s attendance. But while weekend totals weren’t yet available, he said they are optimistic that it will be an increase from last year, which saw a 16 percent rise from 2015.
It’s bringing in some out-of-towners, for weird reasons.
Timmy Yu came down from San Francisco with his 11-year-old dachshund, “Bruiser,” to have the stubby-legged pooch compete in the official Wienerschnitzel Wiener Dog Race.
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