Saturday, July 30, 2022

That's a Good Question - We're Glad You Asked...


Inevitably, every year someone poses the question about why there is an admission fee for the annual New Jersey State Fair®/Sussex County Farm & Horse Show.  Where does the money go?  What do you get in return for your admission to the Fair? 

We’re glad you asked.  If you’re interested in knowing, please read on.

It might be helpful to first look at our Mission Statement:

  • Showcase New Jersey’s agriculture
  • Provide safe, family-friendly entertainment and engaging educational activities
  • Promote youth development
  • Provide support to charitable non-profit agencies

How do we accomplish this mission?  Our annual Fair is an incredible mosaic of dedicated volunteers who work all year long in their area of interest.  From creative arts home and hobby exhibit volunteers to 4-H Cow Kids, and from barrel racing horses to demolition derby competitors, the annual Fair has something for everyone, and it means something to many of us and our neighbors. 

We are a private non-profit organization governed by a board of volunteer Directors.  We receive no government funding.  There is a very small staff of permanent employees who keep the fairgrounds running through the off-season, maintain the grounds and facilities.

Numerous other community non-profits, like our Fire Department, the Boy Scouts and some local Rotary Clubs, all look forward to the annual Fair as their major source of fundraising – which in turn benefits our communities.

As an agricultural Fair, we’re proud to serve as the annual showcase of New Jersey’s agriculture, from honeybees, flowers and vegetables to sheep, goats, pigs, cows and more.  For some fairgoers this may be the only opportunity to see farm animals up close and for our farmers, it’s an opportunity for their livestock to be professionally judged.  We have the Snook Agricultural Museum on the grounds and each year we offer agricultural education programs to area schools.

Putting all this together with a fun and safe atmosphere including a carnival and games and a grand assortment of Fair food isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t inexpensive.

Each fair we budget about $150,000 so that we can offer FREE entertainment every day of the Fair, from Diving Dogs to Pig Races, Fire Dancers to Chainsaw Wood Carvers all FREE with your admission.  In the Franklin Sussex Automall Outdoor Entertainment Area – FREE with your admission - fairgoers can enjoy Tractor Pulls, Motocross Stunt Shows and Wood Chopping Contests.  There is always something happening at the fair.  Our Planet Networks Performing Arts Tent is also chock full of outstanding entertainers from the Annual Queen of the Fair contest, Battle of the Bands, community Talent Show and other outstanding entertainers, from rock bands to polka – all FREE with admission.

The cost of tent rental, security, law enforcement, traffic control, parking, equipment rental and electrical costs easily exceeds a million dollars.  We also pay for sanitation, and staff for admissions and helping fairgoers with information and offering scooters and wheelchairs for rent.  We look forward to seeing our loyal fair staff return to work during the fair each year, and we enjoy hearing about how our local businesses see a boost from visitors to the fair.

With the help of our generous sponsors, we’ve been able to keep the price of admission very low for all that’s offered, and it is even more affordable if you buy advance tickets.  We’re proud to have held this Sussex County tradition for over 80 years we look forward to it for many more generations to come.  Thank you for reading and we hope to see you and your family at the Fair!

For the 2024 Fair, we open Friday August 2nd at 5pm and will be open 10 AM to 10 PM on weekends/ 12 NOON to 10 PM weekdays through Saturday August 10th.