IBJNews

Indiana State Fair falls short of attendance goal

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana State Fair drew 853,941 visitors during its 17-day run that ended Sunday, falling short of its goal by about 20,000, fair officials announced Monday morning.

The fair had aimed for overall attendance of 875,000, a figure based on the average number of visitors the past five years.

Officials blamed several hot days and some thunderstorms for keeping attendance at this year's fair from hitting the mark. A concert by rocker Ted Nugent expected to draw thousands of fans on the free stage at the fairgrounds was canceled due to storms.

“Every year we go through this, and every year it’s the same thing,” fair spokesman Andy Klotz said. “On the beautiful days, attendance spikes on that particular day. On the rainy and extremely hot days, you will have a drop in attendance. There’s a definite correlation there.”

Still, officials said the fair attracted more than 70,000 visitors on each of three different days for the second time since the fair extended its run from 12 days to 17 days in 2009. Special discounts and promotions helped to draw visitors and offset price increases. The fair for the first time charged $5 for parking and increased admission from $8 to $10 to make up for losses from last year’s fair.

The fair attempted to rebound from last year’s tragic concert-stage collapse, which killed seven people and injured dozens more as high winds knocked down stage rigging Aug. 13 before a Sugarland concert.

Fair officials canceled several big concerts in the wake of the disaster and closed for a day, leading to an attendance drop of 8 percent from the previous year.  State Fair revenue fell from $11.9 million in 2010 to $8.4 million in 2011.  

Headline concerts this year were moved downtown to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Barry Manilow, Train, Journey and Blake Shelton performed.

Ticket sales for the downtown concerts were included in fair attendance. Along with their tickets, concertgoers received free admission to any day of the 17-day event. Klotz said Monday morning that the fair was still compiling official attendance figures for the concerts and how many people may have visited the fairgrounds in addition to the downtown concerts.

To replace the big concerts at the fairgrounds, the grandstand offered more thrill-based entertainment, like motorcycle races, tractor pulls and monster truck rallies.

REO Speedwagon, Easton Corbin and MC Hammer played on the free stage in an effort to maintain some live music at the fair.

Fairgoers next year should expect even more nationally known acts on the free stage, Klotz said. It has not yet been determined whether bigger concerts will return to the Fieldhouse next year. Headline acts will return to the fairgrounds in 2014 but will take place in the former Pepsi Coliseum once a renovation of the facility is finished.

Not having the coliseum available for any event next year will present challenges, Klotz said.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said, “but we’ve got some plans developing and we’ll be ready for it.”

The $63 million renovation of the complex will include adding a 20,000-square-foot arena.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Ticket Prices & Parking
    I love taking my family to the fair every year. We usually go 2-3 times each year, but cut back to only once this year due to new Parking Fee and higher ticket prices. I am not surprised that attendance is down.
  • Numerous reason's the fair failed
    I have to agree with the previous statments above concerning the drop in attendance. The new fair committee really dropped the ball this year. You would think that after last years stage collapse, the committee would have done a lot more to bring the people back instead of displacing them throughout the city for different events let alone increase the ticket prices and whatever happened to the midnight madness specials? They also hurt themselves by removing all the animals so early which is a favorite part for kids. Just really disappointed in this years planning, scheduling, and lack of thought put into it.
  • Mistake caused by past mistakes
    Moving so called state fair concerts to downtown Indy meant most of the people going to the concerts skiped the state fair. There was no real reason for not doing the shows at the grandstand. With all the new safety initiatives, a repeat of the damages from last year's freak accident would have been very unlikely to happen.
  • The real reason...
    Is that 90% of the people are obese and get winded walking from the parking lot and have to stop before they enter the gate.
  • Schools are starting earlier
    Not sure if the impact is huge, but a growing number of Indiana school districts have adopted a balanced schedule which means students return to school the first week of August. Wayne Township, Franklin Township, Perry Township, Avon and Brownsburg all returned to school this year before the fair began.
  • Consistent Lack of Leadership and Judgment
    I didn't think it would be possible to ruin the State Fair, but the current administration has managed to do that. I don't believe their attendance figures, because I went on both Saturdays, and the usual crowds were not there. I have a handicapped friend who was there on the AAA "free" day, who had to walk, on his walker, from the Exposition Building to the Deaf School because they stopped the shuttles from running. On Saturday, I wanted a ride from AG/Hort to the pick up point for the Glendale shuttle, but they stopped the shuttles again, allegedly for safety reasons. The deaths of those 7 visitors last year exposed extremely poor judgment, and this year's knee-jerk reaction is the other end of the spectrum. On top of that, they charge to park and jack up the admission fees. I don't want to return again.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

ADVERTISEMENT