Indiana State Fair sees slump in attendance despite adding extra day


Attendance at the Indiana State Fair slumped this year despite an extra day being added to the schedule.

This year’s fair, which closed Sunday, attracted 830,390 people—the second-worst attendance figure for the fair since 2007.

After calling off last year’s fair due to the pandemic, organizers added an 18th day to this year’s event, but spread those days over a longer period than usual by closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.

This year’s fair fell short of 2019’s attendance figure of 878,857 for 17 days.

The only time the fair has drawn fewer people since expanding from 12 to 17 days in 2009 was in 2016, when nine days of precipitation and excessive heat reduced attendance to 731,543.

The fair record was 978,296 in 2013.

“It is wonderful to be back together for this iconic summer tradition and celebrate all things Indiana,” said Indiana Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye in a written statement. “We are thankful for a successful 2021 State Fair and for the opportunity to welcome Hoosiers back.”

Next year’s fair is scheduled for July 29-Aug.21 and will again be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Indiana State Fair attendance

This year’s fair was 18 days. The fair ran 17 days from 2009-2019 and 12 days prior to 2009.

2021 – 830,390
2020 – No fair
2019 – 878,857
2018 – 860,131
2017 – 906,732
2016 – 731,543
2015 – 907,000
2014 – 954,884
2013 – 978,296
2012 – 853,941
2011 – 872,312
2010 – 950,000
2009 – 973,902
2008 – 859,600
2007 – 746,421
2006 – 870,052
2005 – 820,248
2004 – 900,365
2003 – 878,114
2002 – 796,431
2001 – 731,592
2000 – 754,410
1999 – 748,204
1998 – 728,724
1997 – 673,167
1996 – 701,021
1995 – 591,680
1994 – 672,872
1993 – 689,924
1992 – 722,218
1991 – 676,693
1990 – 639,335
1989 – 593,676
1988 – 571,230

Source: Indiana State Fair Commission and IBJ research

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20 thoughts on “Indiana State Fair sees slump in attendance despite adding extra day

  1. Actually, this is not [so] bad considering the pandemic and fears associated with crowding and animals. Many most likely felt the fair would not be an environment safe for families. Anyone with any particularly conditions – asthma for example — chose to take a rain check. Plus, little advertising was put forth about health and safety precautions. Let’s hope for greater attendance next year.

  2. Missed the Mon-Tues – first yr in last 15 yrs family hadn’t gone

    All-in-all, being down <5% of the prev two-year avg with the covid upswing, and constant heat/humidity the back-half of run – could have been a lot worse!

    1. First year we missed in many as well because of being closed on Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t like the extra week with Mondays and Tuesday’s closed and I was hoping they would not do that again. I assume vendors would not like staying for an extra week with six days off as I imagine they need to get to other fairs. It was hard scheduling when to look at animals because they weren’t keeping them around with the longer schedule and days off. I guess we’ll adjust next year, but I’m not a fan.

    2. My bad. I thought they added an extra week, but sounds like only an additional day was added. Nevertheless, we liked going early in the week for less crowds.

  3. Plus, this was the first year that there were no shuttle buses running between a Glendale parking lot and the Fair. Those buses used to be packed. Many people would rather not go than hassle with the parking.

  4. Many schools started during the fair, limiting the availability for those families to attend. Parking/traffic was also a challenge some evenings. It would be great if the shuttle bus system could also come back.

  5. Maybe go back to 12 days, make it less expensive for vendors and those that can make it or want to be there, will be there. Why do we really have a story about the attendance?

  6. I don’t think this new 4-weekend schedule is a good idea. The only vendor I asked said they wouldn’t be back next year if it remains the same, because they have other fairs they are missing out on. I also noticed that there were already less vendors there this year than usual. Some could’ve dropped out because of Covid concerns, but I’d bet that scheduling conflicts had more to do with it. Who would want to commit to an extra week in town to space out the same amount of revenue, if you have other viable alternatives?

    1. Agreed Paul. I would imaging their are other fairs going on these vendors want to get to rather than spend six days sitting around in Indy. I just can’t imagine the days off are appealing to them.

  7. Forgot to mention earlier…..ALL of the local media consistently ran 10 year anniversary stories on the State Fair Stage Collapse during the entire fair schedule. One local station even had a one hour special detailing the horrible event. This was bad, irresponsible and untimely reporting for ticket sales. Apparently the media needs to be paid to not advertise such negativity during the fair, and wait until it is over before they hype stories!

    1. Who on earth would take a weather related collapse of a temporary structure in to play on whether or not to attend the fair? It would be like deciding not to attend a hockey game at the coliseum on Halloween because they news ran a story about the horrific explosion there in the 1960’s.

  8. We didn’t go as I wasn’t going to pay $62 just to park and get in. And yes I know about discount days but we couldn’t schedule it since school had already started in Perry Township and we had other commitments.

  9. Fair was great this year, and vendors I know liked the schedule. Gave them some time off to relax, clean, run errands, or see family/friends.

    Does it need to be this long? Who knows? But I think the day off probably helped some Fair vendors keep their sanity.

  10. From a consumer perspective, I enjoy the longer time period as there are more opportunities to attend. After talking to vendors feedback was mixed and while some appreciated the time off, others may not return. However it appears the schedule is already set for next year. Really enjoyed the giant Ferris Wheel with A/C and recreational area.

  11. Well, maybe if food, toys, t -shirts, rides, etc…… weren’t so expensive, more families could afford to come enjoy the fair. It’s bad enough that we have all these taxes we have to pay, on top of that, if you want to take your family out to enjoy the fair or zoo, etc…you better bring some lube…I spent 300$ at the zoo a few weekends back, that is bull crap, people are sick of all this!

    1. I seriously doubt “people are sick” of what you call “bull crap” at the zoo. My wife and I purchases an annual membership after being turned away one weekend because the zoo had reached maximum capacity after required advanced admission reservations. You don’t have to pay $300 to take your family to the zoo, but obviously you chose to purchase additional items once inside.