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Good Question: Where Does Fair Admission Money Go?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – You could argue that a $12 (full-price) adult ticket to the Minnesota State Fair provides more entertainment than a movie ticket. Or you could argue that it costs a lot of money.

Either way, the fair brings in millions of dollars in gate receipts.

But where does the fair admission fee money go? asked Jack Parisian, from Plymouth.

“The fair actually spends quite a bit more on each person that you’d spend on your admission ticket,” said Brienna Schuette, spokesperson for the fair.

According to the fair, it spends $29 million a year on fair-related expenses. But they take out the Midway and Grandstand expenses, because those operations are paid for with separate tickets.

Last year, 1,769,000 people went to the fair. So the fair estimates it spends $16.42 per person to operate the entire show.

How does that break down?

Administrative expenses are the top category, about 17 percent of the fair’s expenses. They spend $5 million on IT, printing, supplies, auditing, employee benefits, telephones, etc. So that works out to about $2.04 of your full-price ticket. Sixty-eight people work at the fair year-round, that number swells to 2,700 staffers during the fair.

Plant operations is the next largest category, $4.7 million, or 16 percent of expenses. That’s $1.92 per ticket on greenhouses for plants, architectural and engineering operations, set-up and take-down, utilities, water and sewer.

Next it’s blue ribbon contests and agriculture education: $3.2 million, 11 percent, or $1.32 of the $12 ticket.

That’s followed by facilities maintenance: $3.1 million, 10 percent, or $1.28 per ticket.

Facilities wear and tear (depreciation costs) is booked at $2.6 million, 9 percent, $1.08 per ticket.

The park and ride program is free to you, but costs the fair $1.8 million. Six percent expenses is about $0.72 per ticket.

Marketing and advertising is $1.7 million, that’s 6 percent or $ 0.72 per ticket.

Police and fire personnel is $1.5 million, 5 percent, or $0.60 per ticket; the same expense for the “free” entertainment at the fair.

And what about all that trash? Sanitation expenses are $1 million per fair, that’s 3 percent, or $0.36 per ticket.

The fair also has other departments with smaller expenses that make up another 10 percent, or $2.9 million.

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