Grand Olde West Days draws in the crowds

The 2002 edition of Grand Olde West days is enjoying good weather and good attendance, something organizers know is connected.

"We are definitely busier that last year," Cathy Vanatta, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber liaison to the GOWD committee, said Saturday. "The nice weather and the gas prices are helping get people and vendors to Grand Olde West days. We have more vendors for food, crafts and everything, and we're seeing much bigger crowds."

Last year, when gas prices were more than $2 per gallon, GOWD organizers blamed that expense combined with cloudy, cool weather for sub-par attendance numbers. This year, the weekend weather has been bright and warm, and the pleasant weather is expected for the entire Memorial Day Weekend.

The carnival, brought to GOWD by the Chamber of Commerce as its biggest annual fund-raiser, was also experiencing significantly larger crowds, Vanatta said.

"We pre-sold 997 tickets for the carnival this year, and that's almost double what we sold last year," Vanatta said. "We only had 500 for pre-sale last year and sold that out the first day. We doubled that number and pretty much sold out again.

Kathy Shea, GOWD committee member, estimated that by 1 p.m. Saturday, the attendance had already surpassed the total of Saturday's attendance last year.

"We got what we wanted the weather is cooperating," Shea said. "We're expecting a bunch more local vendors and booths this year for local organizations on Monday the churches, the non-profit organizations, the wrestler's booth."

More than 60 vendors total are expected for this year's Grand Olde West Days. Fifteen out of state vendors set up shop for the event this year, which is "pretty much average for us," Shea said.

Josh Lawson, the owner of Bad to the Bone restaurant said his booth at the fairgrounds and the restaurant did very well in the beginning of the weekend, but his experience a not typical.

"We've done very well so far," Lawson said Sunday morning.

"The locals have really supported us, so a big thanks goes out to everyone, but I've been one of the few that have had business. Personally, I've had good business (at GOWD), but in general it's been slow. The other booths are hurting."

Lawson said the booth on Saturday earned 25 percent

more than last year's GOWD Saturday, and the restaurant had a "phenomenal weekend" from crowds from families in town for graduation and GOWD.

Several other vendors, who asked not to be identified, said their business was slow but all were hopeful the heavier business traditionally experienced on Sunday afternoon and during Monday would

again happen.

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