The 58th annual What's New Fair could set an all-time attendance record if the steady stream of visitors during the event's first day of operation are any indication.
In the early hours of Saturday's event, hundreds of community and area residents made their way to Jamestown Community College's Hamilton Collegiate Center - which bore only a slim resemblance to itself in accommodating the heavy foot traffic. According to Mary Lee Talbot, co-chair of the What's New Fair, the additional marketing measures taken by the coordinators of the event seem to have paid off.
"It has been wonderful so far," said Talbot, who said approximately 500 people had visited within the first two hours. "We have had tremendous support from the community. And this isn't consistent with (the attendance of) previous years, it probably has to do with some new advertising we did this year like Facebook and social networking. We've averaged between 1,500 and 1,800 (visitors) over the last five years. We haven't been over 2,000 since about 2003, so we're hoping that we will get more than 2,000 people coming through this year."
Visitors to the 58th annual What’s New Fair browse the goods of an all-time high 71 vendors at Jamestown Community College’s Hamilton Collegiate Center on Saturday.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
In addition to increasing in size from a consumer standpoint, Talbot said this year's fair is also featuring the wares of more vendors than ever before.
"This is one of our largest fairs ever," she said. "We've re-arranged some of the space, and we have 71 vendors this year. The cooperation that the merchants and Jamestown Community College gives us is tremendous. And we couldn't do it without the help of our volunteers from the (American Association of University Women), and students from the local high schools, and JCC and Jamestown Business College, as well."
The What's New Fair is annually sponsored and hosted by the Jamestown Branch of the American Association of University Women. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for JCC/JBC students with ID, $1 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Ample parking is available on the JCC campus. Proceeds from the fair go to awarding scholarships for JCC and Jamestown Business College female graduates who are going on to earn their four-year degrees.
The What's New Fair will continue today from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Special guests will include Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be available to chat with children and adults who wish to confide their Christmas wishes. The AAUW organization will feature a table of handmade and other items. The AAUW Sweet Shoppe offers a variety of homemade baked goods ranging from small breads, fudge, pies, and candies to cookies. The famous AAUW Gingerbread House supplies attendees with personalized gingerbread men at $2 each or three for $5.
The AAUW will also run a What's New Fair drawing. Tickets cost $1 per ticket, $5 for seven tickets or $10 for 20 tickets. AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, research and philanthropy. For more information about AAUW, go to www.aauw.org, Jamestown-ny.aauw.net, or go to the "AAUW Jamestown Branch" Facebook page.