State Fair breaks last year’s attendance record

The Iowa State Fair reported Monday that although the estimated attendance through Friday was lagging behind 2017 numbers, nice weather over the weekend boosted attendance enough to reach an estimate 1,130,260, just 189 people more than the 1,130,071 attendance record set in 2017.The increase in attendance makes sense when the record 15,775 attendance at the Thomas Rhett concert on Aug. 15 is considered. The Thomas Rhett concert along with Reba’s crowd of 14,102 and a closing night crowd of 11,817 for Florida Georgia Line pushed the total Grandstand attendance to a new record of 89,558 during the 11-day concert series. In 2017, the highest concert attendance was Pentatonix at 10,643, which was considered a sell out before Grandstand renovations this year opened up 4,000 additional seats.

Many of the concert goers traveled to the Fair by car, with a record 75,554 cars parked on the Fairgrounds. With the addition of parking along the northeast side of the Fairgrounds last year and a tram service, the previous record was 71,226.

Last year, the ride areas were renovated and in 2018, a record number of credits were redeemed in one day, a testament to the Fair’s investment in cleaner, safer, and more family friendly rides and games. The digital wristband program was a considerable upgrade for kids and families too.

The wood carver’s auction and the Sale of Champions are events that benefit programs supported by the Fair. The woodcarver’s auction supports the Blue Ribbon Foundation, which raises funds for building improvements and renovations on the fairgrounds. The auction raised a record $56,500 this year.

The Sale of Champions supports student scholarships and shattered records in 2018. The Reserve Grand Champion 4-H market steer sold for a record $60,000 while the Grand Champion 4-H meat goat sold for a record $21,000. The 4-H market hog was not only a new record for hogs at $61,000, but it was an all-time record for all animals sold in the Sale of Champions ever. Total, the Sale of Champions raised a record $381,500 to support student scholarships.

The Fair staff is still gathering the numbers on many of Fair activities, contests, and events. “We can’t wait to see what other records we may have set in 2018,” an Iowa State Fair press release stated.

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