Nearly Perfect

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>Hillsboro?s downtown business district was filled with fair visitors by mid-morning, and the stream never slowed until late in the day, organizers said.

Good weather doesn?t solve everything in life, but near-perfect conditions Saturday made the 46th Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair one of the smoothest events in recent memory, according to organizers.

Visitor participation was strong, but also steady throughout the day, according to Penni Schroeder, fair director.

?It seemed like a steady crowd clear up until 4 (p.m),? she said. ?Last year, it dropped off right after noon because it was so hot.?

She added: ?It took a little longer for the crowd to pick up because it was so cool (early morning), but it wasn?t like it was so crowded in the morning that people couldn?t stand it and left,? she added. ?It was just a steady, good crowd all day.?

Schroeder said one measurable difference was the way fairgoers used the Emprise Bank courtyard near the intersection of Main Street and Grand Avenue.

?Last year, hardly anybody used the courtyard because it was so hot,? she said. ?But it was just full of people for most of the day, which was good to see. There were places for people to sit.?

Police Chief Dan Kinning estimated the turn?out to be bigger and more enduring than last year?s.

?I figure between 45,000 to 50,000 people,? he said, based on parking patterns. ?It was longer and steadier than usual. It was just a good day.?

Mood altering

Schroeder said the moderate weather seemed to affect people?s mood, too.

?I felt like the vendors were calm and cooperative,? she said. ?I didn?t feel like we had anybody intense about wanting to do something that we didn?t want them to do. It just seemed really relaxed, both setting up and tearing down.

?There were people still tearing down after 7:30,? she added. ?I think some thought, ?I don?t have to beat the crowd, I can just leave when I?m ready.? The weather had a lot to do with that.?

A good sales day may have helped their outlook, too.

?I talked to some as they were closing up, and most of them said they had a great day,? Schroeder said. ?Some said it was average, but no one said, ?Oh, I didn?t do very good at all.? The temperature was moderate enough Saturday morning that visitors actually enjoyed sitting on the benches in the sunshine along west Grand.<p><p>Don Ratzlaff / Free PressThey all were average to great.

?The food vendors, I think, did well, too.?

Early indicators

Both Schroeder and Kinning mentioned early indications that this year?s fair was going to be an upbeat event compared to some years.

?I was concerned about volunteers because I was having a little trouble getting them,? Schroeder said. ?I ended up having just a great amount of volunteers. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>Jared Jost (right), a volunteer at the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce food both, serves a hot burger to a mid-morning customer. Organizers said local food vendors had a good day with the estimated 45,000-plus visitors.

?Everybody stepped up. On Thursday, a couple of people stopped in (at the fair office) and said, ?Where can we help?? That was great.?

Kinning, meanwhile, noticed a mood difference when it came time to clear vehicles from the downtown business district at 5 p.m. Friday.

?Clearing the streets the night before was the smoothest we?ve ever had,? he said. ?We were done probably within 20 minutes.

?Usually, I have to start threatening with tow trucks,? he added with a chuckle. ?But it went really well, and the next day went really well, too.?

Kinning said EMS crews received only a few minor health-related alerts.

?One lady bumped her head and another one fell, but I don?t think any of it was serious enough to take anybody anywhere,? he said.

As for law enforcement issues, he said, ?We didn?t have anything other than the usual parking complaints.?

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