MEMPHIS, TN - Labor Day marks the last holiday of the summer and the start of fair season. For Memphians, that's always meant the Mid-South Fair, but not anymore. For the last few years, it's been replaced and overshadowed by the Delta Fair.
The Delta and Mid-South Fairs are run by the same people. The 155-year-old Mid-South Fair, relocated three years ago from the fairgrounds in Midtown Memphis to the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi, is struggling to attract people. But the Delta Fair's crowds keep growing.
"It's all about location, just like in real estate," says Mark Lovell, the president of both the Delta Fair and Universal Fairs, the company that runs the Mid-South Fair. "It's location, location, location."
And if you ask where the best location is right now, the Delta Fair seems to win hands down with its' prime East Memphis spot at the Agricenter off Walnut Grove.
"We come every year," says David Jones. "We live in Germantown so this is right here."
"This is my third time," says Rachel Zambroni.
Neither she nor Jones attends the Mid-South Fair.
"Not since it moved," Zambroni says, "because it's just too far to drive."
Fair president Lovell says since the Delta Fair started in 2007, families are choosing to stay in the suburbs.
"Last year the Delta Fair had 240,000 people," he tells abc24.com. "If the weather is good to us this year, we hope to hit 300,000."
The Mid-South fair didn't even attract half of that in 2010.
"We had about 90,000 people," Lovell says.
He believes people are more familiar with the Delta Fair's location at the Agricenter.
"Everybody knows where it's at," he says, "and it's easy to get to."
He says they're sometimes confused about the changes with the Mid-South Fair's location. While Lovell's thinking logistics, fairgoers just care about the fun.
"Playing games!" says 5-year-old Chester Jones.
There's no shortage of games, rides or crazy sights at the Delta Fair.
"We keep adding the components that truly make a fair a fair," Lovell says, "like crafts, culinary goods and collectibles. We have the livestock show and the rodeo."
"It's a little smaller than the Mid-South fair," says Zambroni. "But it has the same things we like: the fun, the rides, the food."
Visitors are eating it up, coming out in droves.
"Just to support the local community," says Armand Peete, who brought his whole family. "We really love Germantown, Cordova and the Memphis area. I have all my kids here."
Once the Delta Fair wraps up in another week, Lovell and his crew are packing things up and heading south to DeSoto County where he hopes to improve on last year's Mid-South fair attendance numbers.