POMONA >> The LA County Fair returns to Pomona on Friday for the month of September, and the business it brings to the surrounding area is of Super Bowl proportions, according to Fairplex officials.
According to the last report done on the fair’s economic impact to the region by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. in 2003, direct and indirect spending related to the fair equated to $300 million. Fair organizers say that figure, adjusted for inflation, is likely similar today.
“Studies have showed that the fair is very similar to having a Super Bowl,” Renee Hernandez, Fairplex spokeswoman, said. “The fair is equal to that type of an event, so the economic impact is huge.”
About 2,500 people are employed directly by the Los Angeles County Fair Association, and an additional 7,000 are hired by Fairplex partners and vendors. That’s all to support 1.3 million visitors each year.
Those folks spend money locally.
“The external community receives the benefit from that too,” Hernandez said. “As people drive through, they’ll stop at the stores, they’ll get gas. We have guests staying at local hotels and motels, so the reach is pretty far into the community and the region.”
In addition, many visitors make major home and lifestyle purchases at the LA County Fair, Michelle DeMott, vice president of branding for Fairplex, said.
“There’s a tremendous volume of shopping that takes place here. In fact it’s one of the top reasons people come to the fair,” DeMott said. “It’s everything from mops and spices to major purchases, like mattresses, barbecue islands, spas and even cars.”
Nikhil Zavheri is manager of the American Inn and Suites, 310 E. Foothill Blvd., 3 miles away from the fairgrounds, close enough to feel a positive impact.
“We get good business on the weekends, because a lot of people visit,” Zavheri said. “People travel, and they stay. They want to have food. A lot of businesses benefit.”
Pomona businesses aren’t the only ones reaping financial rewards.
Francisco Ramirez, owner of Roberta’s Village Inn, a ’50s style diner in downtown La Verne at 2326, D St., said the fair “is a good thing to have very close to us.” The restaurant sees a spike of about 15 to 20 percent during the month of September.
Ramona Shumate, who works at the restaurant as a server, agreed.
“They like it here because they know they can always come here and have a wonderful breakfast before they go and spend all that money at the LA County Fair,” Shumate said.
“If they come too early when the fair’s not open (the fair opens at noon Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. weekends), somebody has mentioned to them to come to Roberta’s or they’ll just look it up,” Shumate said. “They’ll just show up because we’re so near to the fair.”
Others don’t fare — if you will — as well. Down the street from Roberta’s is the Smoke Shop at 2310 D St., owned by Frank Firand. The fair means a 20 percent dip in business for September for him.
Firand sells the kind of tobacco, vape and hookah products other vendors do at the fair.
“For our business, no it doesn’t help us at all,” Firand said. “At the fair they have all the smoking stuff, so we lose customers. They sell at a lesser price than us.”