FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — Twelve days of summer fun end Monday night at the Minnesota State Fair.
The fairgrounds close at 11 p.m.
So far, more than 1.7 million visitors have entered the gates, nearing the all-time record set just two years ago.
When it’s all said and done, fair organizers expect to shatter the previous overall attendance record.
This final day at the Great Minnesota Get-Together was another busy one, following a trend we saw over the course of this year’s fair.
This might seem like the last-minute rush at the fair.
“I always want to come on the last day. This is what I do, it’s a tradition I have,” one fairgoer said.
Yet for the last 12 days, this line outside the entrance gate hasn’t let up.
The crowds came out like they never have before, shattering old single-day attendance records.
“Pretty unprecedented. So the two Fridays of the fair, record days,” said Brienna Schuette, marketing and communications manager for the Minnesota State Fair.
Then this past Saturday, a new single-day record was set. More than 260,000 people passed through the gates.
“Broke the previous record set back in 2014 by about 10,000,” Schuette said.
David Theisen doesn’t need to see the numbers to know this year was unprecedented.
“Just nice and steady, great crowds,” he said.
At his Ballpark Cafe, the crowds came last Thursday and never left, testing his ability to keep up with demand.
“You don’t want to run out. We get beer every night, food every night get delivered to us. And employee-wise I have a lot of family that jump in,” he said.
Mild weather will always make for a busy day, but new technology used to track attendance is giving a more accurate number compared to the old method of only weighing the ticket stubs.
“As we move around the grounds and implement more electronic ticketing at different gates, certainly that plays into it,” Schuette said.
While the fair’s success isn’t measured in numbers — rather, experience — a record-setting year never hurts.
“It speaks to the success of the State Fair, the loyalty of Minnesotans to their State Fair, the need for this tradition,” Schuette said.
Over the weekend, attendance was ahead by about 130,000 compared to last year. That’s more people than they see in a typical weekday.
Only about 40,000 visitors were needed to hit a new yearly record, and they clearly reached that mark Monday.