Millions Lost: Economic fallout of canceled Bloomsburg Fair

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BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) The largest impact of 2020 without the areas largest fair? More than $30 million for not just Boomsburg, but the region and beyond.

2020 would have been the 165th Bloomsburg Fair. A place where funnel cake, livestock and open air bring people together. A global pandemic bringing the party to a traumatic halt.

“This year we have everything that’s not a drive thru stopped until the end of the year. So hopefully after the first year, we’ll have some of our shows coming back in which we’ll, we’ll start to get back to some normalcy,” said Bloomsburg Fair president, Randy Karchner. “It’s so much Bigger than $8 at the gate.”

It’s far from just the fairgrounds and fair organization losing out. The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau regularly evaluates economic impact in the region including that of the fair.

“We determined that the fair rings in roughly about $30.5 million worth of economic impact to the region,” said executive director David ‘Otto’ Kurecian. “Those dollars just disappear.”

Some events have still been taking place behind the fence at the fair, but it’s far from the regional spectacle that brings in millions to the economy.

“It’s a wonderful thing a nice social event, a lot of people come here every year and we’ll spend all day in and sit down here,” said Bloomsburg resident Rich Birkheiser as he also commented on the decision to cancel the fair for safety. “A lot of back and forth, but I think is probably probably the smartest thing to do now.”

Outside the gates, thousands collected for parking which would be Christmas, tax or even vacation money for some. This year hits that much harder.

Many regularly sell spots on their driveways and lawns around the fairgrounds to help with finances. Taisha Martinez recently bought a house just outside the grounds.

“I know we were looking forward to having parking in our yard to this year and then when we found out there was no fair this year and we were like ‘oh, darn.’ That would have helped a lot because we just bought a house, you know, so,”

Keeping the lights on, mortgages and more…

“[Some] may have lost their job so that that may have been more than a than an extra income this year,” added Karchner. “It may be a hard real hardship for them.”

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