Indiana State Fair attendance sinks almost 20 percent

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Indiana State Fair attendance dropped almost 20 percent this year despite record attendance Sunday on the final day of its 17-day run.

Fair officials said total attendance was 731,543, down 19.4 percent from the 907,342 who attended the fair in 2015.

Last year’s fair was the fifth-most attended in history. The record was set in 2013, when attendance was 978,296. The fair grew from a 12-day event to 17 days in 2009.

This year’s attendance was hampered by an average heat index of more than 87 degrees during the event and nine days of precipitation that brought more than 4 inches of rain, officials said.

Moderate temperatures and mostly sunny conditions helped lure 83,148 fair-goers through the gates Sunday, establishing a final-day record.

Officials did not say whether attendance was hurt by the lack of the Indiana State Fair Train this year or the absence of bigger concerts.

About 15,000 people took the Fair Train to the event last year, but the train was shut down this year due to safety reasons.

This year’s fair, for the first time, featured only smaller free concerts instead of paid concerts at the 8,200-seat Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

“The mission of the Indiana State Fair is to promote agriculture and connect farmers with consumers, and this fair we got a glimpse of what a farmer can deal with during a season with less than favorable weather,” said Indiana State Fairgrounds Executive Director Cindy Hoye in a written statement. “The challenges this year showed how resilient this team can be at still providing a great fair for those that did come out, even in the heat and rain.”
The Indiana State Fair Foundation also announced Sunday that it has completed its Coliseum Campaign by raising more than $10 million toward the $63 million renovation of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum and addition of the Pop Weaver Pavilion and Cheri Daniels Youth Arena.

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