* These numbers just don’t seem to make sense…
A total of 411,547 people visited the Illinois State Fair this year.
The fair announced the low turnout for the 11-day event Tuesday despite what it called near perfect weather conditions. Fair officials provided no immediate explanation for the figure that was less than half the 847,000 who attended the fair last year.
Fair organizers said $1,357,000 was collected in gate and parking revenue. Despite fewer people attending the fair this year, the gate and parking revenue was just $55,000 shy of last year’s amount.
Preliminary estimates show that one of the biggest contributors to the fair’s total revenue this year was Grandstand ticket sales, which at $1.9 million was the second-highest in state fair history. This year’s fair also ranks fifth in number of Grandstand ticket sales, with 51,420 being sold.
Gate and parking revenues are down only slightly, Grandstand ticket sales are second-highest in history, yet attendance was off by half?
Are they counting noses differently than in the past?…
The department of agriculture’s spokeswoman notes that parking and admission revenue is audited, while turnout is not.
In a statement, the fair’s new director says a strict methodology was used to tabulate attendance. He says he’s proud of the fair, and its strong grandstand sales.
Illinois’ fair date is set by statute; this year, a late Labor Day meant the fair was held when many students were already back in school.
So, maybe past attendance numbers were grossly inflated?
Either way, something’s not right here.
*** UPDATE *** SJ-R…
The total attendance includes estimates to account for people who had free admission and children under 5. For instance, senior citizens had free admission on Senior Day, and veterans (and their families) had free admission on Veterans Day.
“There are several free days on the grounds, and we used US Census information (seniors) and data from the Department of Defense (veterans) to estimate attendance on those days,” [Department of Agriculture spokesperson Rebecca Clark] said in an e-mail.
A press release from the fair included the following comment from Buchen:
“We are very proud of the Illinois State Fair and what we were able to present to fairgoers. We have put together a methodology that is tried and true by event industry professionals nationwide because vendors, sponsors and Illinois taxpayers deserve an accurate depiction of who attended the fair.”
Looks like they drastically changed the head-counting procedure.