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State Fair attendance said to be up 37 percent from last year

Friday, Aug 23, 2019

* Press release…

The numbers for this year’s Illinois State Fair continue to demonstrate a historically successful event. While records for both revenue and ticket sales were broken for the grandstand lineup, high marks from parking, attendance and vendors were also achieved.

Estimated attendance totals of nearly 509,000 are 37% higher than 2018’s projection of just over 370,000 making it the largest estimated total attendance since 2014. Despite a reduction in admissions for Sunday through Thursday, gate revenue was up over last year’s fair. More parking passes were sold this year than the previous 17 years that this information was recorded. This year’s fair also saw an increase of vendors over last year by nearly 50.

“This year’s fair took an already wonderful event to new heights, breaking records at the grandstand and bringing Illinoisans from all across the state together to celebrate everything that makes Illinois so special,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From barns packed with all that our agriculture industry has to offer to entertainment for Illinoisans of all ages, I’m thrilled my first state fair as governor was such a success.”

“No matter the metric, this year’s fair was undoubtedly a success,” said Illinois State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon. “Our goal was to bring families back to the fair during the week. I feel our decision to reduce admission during the week was rewarded by the attendance of the public. The weather was wonderful, our promotions were well received, our grandstand lineup was historic and I spoke with many vendors and concessionaires pleased with the crowds and their revenues. I’m excited to see what this means for our total revenues once those numbers are finalized.”

…Adding… Some commenters have asked about 2018 fair attendance. The drop was not weather-related

The Illinois State Fair in Springfield saw 369,144 people walk or drive through its gates last month, an 8 percent drop compared to last year’s fair, state officials reported Friday.

Officials noted, however, that fairgoers this year appeared to spend more money than in 2017, according to an early look at vendors’ sales receipts.

This year’s attendance total was lower than the 401,648 who attended the 2017 fair but higher than the 347,855 who passed through the gates during the 2016 event that was plagued by flooding rains, extreme heat and power outages. The 2015 state fair, the first to be counted using a different formula, attracted 411,547.

Fair officials noted this year’s milder weather and limited rain helped the numbers.

…Adding… Historical data…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - efudd - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 8:58 am:

    No end to what can be accomplished once the executive office stops bad-mouthing the state.


  2. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:03 am:

    I imagine it really helped that Rauner wasn’t running around the state talking about how terrible the State Fair is.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:05 am:

    Congrats to all who made this such a success. Illinois and Chicago are doing great, tourism-wise. We must not allow radical extremists, the Eastern Bloc, to ruin what makes the state so attractive for our tourism industry and every other reason.

    “I’m thrilled my first state fair as governor was such a success.”

    At least he didn’t say he was the Chosen One of Illinois. That was Gov. Quinn.


  4. - Flynn's mom - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:08 am:

    Imagine that. I guess wearing a costume and running around talking about the Illinois implosion wasn’t so good for bidness’ after all.


  5. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:10 am:

    Mike Madigan and the potential fair attendees he controls…


  6. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:14 am:

    Prtizker threw a birthday party.

    Rauner threw a hospice party.

    One is definitely more funner.


  7. - GOB Bluth - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:14 am:

    Maybe I’m wrong but I’d think the increased fair attendance had more to do with a lot of great weather and the price discount than what a current or former governor had to say about it…


  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:16 am:

    Yeah… the RaunerS and their brand… you run down things and say bad things and wear costumes… then everything goes south.

    There’s a great deal to be said for positive marketing and liking the state.

    It’s baffling how TWO people who couldn’t stand Illinois got to be Illinois’ “top” ambassadors of all things Illinois.


  9. - Springfield Transplant - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:24 am:

    I’m not surprised by this. The weather was fantastic (aside from a bit of rain) and the reduced admission rate during the weekday really helped. I went out a few evenings to grab some food and watch a couple of the animal shows, which I didn’t do last year because it was too pricey for a short visit. I’ve heard from friends that they did the same, plus they bought more food and drinks during the fair because they saved money on entry. I didn’t buy grandstand tickets but I enjoyed hearing the shows while walking around the fair. Solid lineup this year, with something for everyone.


  10. - Henry Francis - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    Highest attendance since 2014 you say. What was going on during 2015 - 2018. Hmmmmm. . .


  11. - Wowzers - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:33 am:

    Wasn’t there a lot of bad weather last year at least? I can’t remember for sure- getting old.


  12. - Lefty Lefty - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:44 am:

    It appears that the confederate flag/Snoop Dogg boycott worked brilliantly.


  13. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:48 am:

    I have to question the vendor statement. There were more open spaces on both the streets and in the Exposition Building. They may have generated more vendor revenue, but it looked to me like the vendor count was down noticably.


  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:54 am:

    === but it looked to me like the vendor count was down noticably===

    Same.

    But Director Sullivan insisted to me during the fair that they’d added 50 vendors. He’s got the count.


  15. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    And I have to wonder how the more parking passes sold affected the neighborhood parking. I have a friend with a lot about a block and s half from the main gate and her parking traffic seemed to be light.


  16. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    == But Director Sullivan insisted to me during the fair that they’d added 50 vendors. He’s got the count. ==

    I agree he has the count but …

    Wonder if they have changed their definition of vendor?


  17. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    Quibbles aside, it was a nice fair this year. We went Thursday with the grandkids, Mrs went Friday, the two of us went Monday, Wednesday with the grandkids, and the two of us again on the last Friday where we ran into friends from Decatur. I’m not a big fairgoer but the Mrs is, and I have to say I mostly enjoyed myself.


  18. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:19 am:

    Having great weather certainly helps the cause, but so too does recruiting events and acts people would pay to see.


  19. - efudd - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    “price discount”

    Okay, so making things more affordable can also lead to increased participation/money spent.

    I wonder if Walmart is on to this.


  20. - R A T - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    I agree with RNUG comments on vendors.

    Also, I would reduce the price to $5 on Fri and Sat and $2 or 3 other days. I think it would be the best for the Fair and the people of the State of Illinois.

    I would also cancel the DuQuoin State Fair as it is free and still costing the State more money for less benefit.


  21. - City Zen - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    Glad to hear the company picnic was a success.

    Good times on the fair circuit. Iowa State Fair set an attendance record this year. Wisconsin also set a new record with attendance up 9% from last year, which is pretty impressive given they attract over a million visitors. Even Indiana fair attendance was up despite severe weather on the final weekend.


  22. - Bourbon Street - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Attendance up 37%, you say? 50 more vendors, you say? You mean that everything I’ve heard about people hating Illinois and fleeing the state is not true? I’m shocked, totally shocked (banned punctuation) /s


  23. - Huh? - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    “cancel the DuQuoin State Fair”

    Canceling the DuQuion State Fair would require legislative action. 20 ILCS 210/5 states “The Department shall annually hold State Fair at Springfield and DuQuion …”


  24. - a suggestion or two - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    It was a pretty good performance, for a “rebuilding year”, as the sports teams say. And don’t forget that there was considerable effort to refurbish major and minor buildings that Rauner and other, previous governors had let decay.

    But I’d offer these suggestions for next year:

    Pass an amendment to move the fair schedule back by one week, so it doesn’t conflict with the start of the school year, and you’ll likely see a lot more family trips coming out to the fair. Once school’s started, nobody’s got the time to visit the fair on a weekday, only the weekends.

    Second, I think if you park on the fairgrounds, they should just give you a free tram ride wristband. The gas is already underwritten by sponsors, so it’s not a profit center to charge for wristbands, just a disincentive to using the tram, and being able to grab the tram helps move people from outlying lot areas across the fair as well as Conservation World.

    Number three: start planting some new shade trees. Maybe have them be sponsored, so you can plant bigger ones from the beginning, to get things moving along faster.


  25. - JS Mill - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:15 pm:

    =Canceling the DuQuion State Fair would require legislative action. 20 ILCS 210/5 states “The Department shall annually hold State Fair at Springfield and DuQuion …”=

    Sounds like something that can be handled very nicely during the next legislative session.


  26. - Southern - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    =Canceling the DuQuion State Fair would require legislative action. 20 ILCS 210/5 states “The Department shall annually hold State Fair at Springfield and DuQuion …”=

    Sounds like something that can be handled very nicely during the next legislative session.

    Throw a little more gas on the separation fire.


  27. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    =Throw a little more gas on the separation fire. =

    If someone (or perhaps seven magnificent individuals) burns a finger, they might learn to stop playing with matches. Put it on a statewide referendum, I say. Only question is where to draw the Mason-Dixon, er, Lincoln-Davis Line. I-64? I-70?


  28. - JS Mill - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    =Throw a little more gas on the separation fire.=

    The wingnuts seem to stoke their own fire just fine.

    I would think they would support such a fiscally prudent move since they are opposed to socialism an stuff.


  29. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    ===Throw a little more gas on the separation fire. ===

    Meh. Have a rally to support the DuQuoin Fair.

    Have Confederate Railroad be the band…


  30. - Pick a Name - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    I have been one evening a year for 9-10 years straight. In spite of really nice weather the evening we attended, I thought the crowd was light. And it was light compared to the past few years.


  31. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    =The wingnuts seem to stoke their own fire just fine.=

    Yes they do. On this, the last workday before the long-awaited DQSF boycott, I wonder if Rich would grant his readership a special request for the “Friday afternoon reader comments closed” musical feature? Perhaps a nice country tune dedicated to the Magnificent 7 and their constituents: “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks.


  32. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    == so it’s not a profit center to charge for wristbands ==

    Actually, it is a profit center … various school volunteers staff the tram and the money goes to their schools


  33. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Aug 23, 19 @ 3:27 pm:

    Weather was about the same last year vs this year. But a little bit better this year.

    To the point about the vendors. I think that space rental has something to do with how you saw them laid out and placed along the show grounds. And I do think that a display in the Illinois Building counts a vendor.

    As everyone said already. Don’t crap all over the state and maybe people will come out for a good time.

    Cheaper admission helps, draws repeat folks from 45 miles or so. That’s where you get the bulk of attendance anyway.

    And finally, I personally think, given all of the terrible things that happen in public spaces now, there’s an innate sense of security at the ISF with the ISP. Maybe at time when folks can be shy about being at big events all those funny hats and undercover guys and gals helps get people to gather in public.


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