Reporting Reg Chapman
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — It feels like fall Minnesota again, especially at the Minnesota State Fair, where the crowd is trading in its shorts and flip flops for sweaters and jeans.
And with the arrival of cooler temperatures, the big crowds have been making a late appearance. Sunday’s official attendance was 236,197. That set the record not only for the biggest penultimate day at the fair ever, but also the record for the largest single-day attendance in the State Fair’s history.
It’s long overdue. Tuesday’s attendance at 94,076 was the lowest for any single day in the past six fairs.
Heat was the major factor as the high temperature got close to 100 degrees and the head index approached 110. Through Saturday, attendance was down more than a half a million people from last year.
But the same vendors who were facing some dramatic decreases in sales earlier last week are saying cooler temperatures over the weekend helped them get closer to at least breaking even.
“Yesterday we had all eight of our friers and asking people to stay late which is better than sending them home,” said David Eckert, the manager of the Fresh French Fries stand, one of the more popular food options at the State Fair.
“I think everyone was just waiting for one cool day and then everybody came out at the same time,” said Joanne Schlavin, the owner of Minneaple Pie.
State Fair officials said there’s still work to do if they want to meet attendance numbers from previous years or at least make up some ground after last week’s heat wave kept people away. They’ll need 221,627 people to show up on Labor Day to match 2012 figures. The record for Labor Day attendance is currently at 160,209.
It’s the last chance for fair-goers to get out to the State Fairgrounds and enjoy the food, rides and crafts. To help draw crowds on the last day, tons of foods like potato skins, nuts and cheesecake are $1 off.
You’ll find crafts, clothes and jewelry stands have the biggest sales going on as a lot of the vendors are slashing prices by half. This should help what was a tough week.