Reporting Rachel Slavik
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) – On day 10 of the State Fair more than 1.1 million people visited the Great Minnesota Get Together.
Although that sounds like a hefty number, fair attendance is actually down compared to the past two years.
Several factors affect attendance numbers, but weather is key. Tuesday’s rain and cool temperatures kept the crowd just under 100,000, and Thursday’s scorching heat also kept the attendance numbers down.
“There is a fascination with attendance numbers, because so many people come to the fair,” said Brienna Schuette, the communications manager at the Minnesota State Fair.
She said the State Fair rivals Disney World with its per day attendance numbers.
Tom Ek and his family of seven helped Saturday’s attendance numbers. He did notice the $1 increase in ticket prices, but he doesn’t think that’s what kept people away in 2011.
“I think it might have something to do with the economy being down. People don’t have as much expendable income and are thinking they’ll skip this year,” Ek said.
Far from the entrance gates, Jim Nelson is able to gauge ticket sales from his pronto pup stand.
“The recession hit the last couple of years. More people are walking than buying,” Nelson said.
Nelson has noticed when attendance is down, his sales often follow, but he’s come up with a recipe to help people save while keeping his profits up.
“We have a deal where you buy four, get the fifth free. It cuts down on cost. It’s a good thing. It’s been popular,” Nelson said.
History has shown fair attendance has its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s the economy that keeps fairgoers away, sometimes it’s the weather.
“Can’t break records every year,” Schuette said. “You want to, but can’t always do that,”.
With three days left of the fair, 2011 could still make its mark in attendance history.
The State Fair attendance numbers tend to spike and plateau. The last two years they broke two all-time records for single day attendance and overall attendance.