People sitting in the grandstand and on the track watching an event at the Knox County Fair

MOUNT VERNON — Senor Fair Board President Jim Ruhl and Vice President Regis Fowler met with the commissioners on Sept. 7, recapping the 2023 fair and previewing plans for the 2024 event.

As far as attendance, 2023 was about average.

“Number-wise, we were down about 1,000 from last year. Revenue-wise, we were up from last year,” Fowler said.

Sale day generated $1.03 million, a record amount. Ruhl said the payout process seemed slower due to the amount of sales. The board is exploring options such as going to a multiple-day sale or an earlier start time to speed up the process.

Vendor receipts were down halfway through the fair, but the board does not yet have the final numbers.

Commissioners Bill Pursel and Teresa Bemiller noted that parking went well and the paved Perimeter Drive was nice.

The campground’s 110 spots were filled, and the board has a waitlist.

“We are pretty much at the maximum that our electricity can handle up there,” Fowler said.

Focus areas for 2024 include entertainment, safety, and fairgrounds improvements.

The board is getting budgetary numbers for entertainment acts, which range from $40,000 to $100,000. Fowler noted the board will “need a significant sponsor or two” to cover the cost.

He said the board is looking to expand events held on the fairgrounds.

“We applaud your efforts, and the direction you are taking,” Pursel said. “We know it hasn’t been easy.”

Safety issues include reviewing policies for events such as the rough truck contest. The commissioners and fair board members discussed a golf cart accident in executive session as it involves legal counsel.


The fair board will put $500,000 in state funding toward capital improvement projects. Originally earmarked for an expo center, the state approved using the money for improvements instead.

Focus projects include grandstand and hog barn improvements. Preliminary estimates for both projects are over $75,000, which means they will have to be competitively bid and pay prevailing wage.

Other improvement projects underway or completed will be covered through fair board operating funds or commissioners’ support.

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