Ideal weather with mild temperatures, low humidity and very little rain no doubt helped boost attendance at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair, but diverse ag and educational exhibits, big-name entertainment, great carnival rides and a wide variety of food were the main reasons the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair tied an attendance record that dates back to 1969.
More than 1 million people – 1,012,552 to be exact – attended the 11-day fair from Aug. 1-11 in West Allis. That's 10% more than the 2012 attendance of 920,962 people. This is the largest reported attendance since 1969, according to state fair officials. Between 71,000 and 122,000 visitors flocked to the fair daily.
1 million visitors
There are very few state fairs left in the country that can still attract more than 1 million fairgoers. Two of those fairs are in neighboring states:
*A total of 1,731,162 people attended the 12-day 2013 Minnesota State Fair, approaching but not surpassing the 1,790,497 people who attended the 2009 Minnesota State Fair.
*The 11-day 2013 Iowa State Fair attracted 1,047,246 people, down from 1,097,142 visitors in 2012.
*A total of 961,000 people attended the 11-day 2013 Illinois State Fair, which was up 5% over last year and the highest since 2002 when 1.2 million people attended the fair.
*The 2013 Indiana State Fair set an attendance record after closing its 17-day run. This year's fair drew 978,296 people, beating a previous record set in 2009 by nearly 4,400.
But then there are states like Michigan who hasn't had a state fair since 2009 when attendance dwindled to just over 200,000 visitors and the fair was cancelled.
The fun and excitement of the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair seemed to grow with each passing day. All in all, celebrating 162 years of state fair tradition proved to be a favorite part of many families' summer plans this year. Here a few fun fair facts:
*More than 3,200 exhibitors participated in 2013 fair competitions, some in multiple classes. This includes open and junior class dairy and livestock shows as well as horticulture, crafts, foods, cheese, meat, wine, beer and other miscellaneous competitions such as young people's art, dog diving and more.
*Fairgoers enjoyed the beauty of 8,808 flowers and plants that were planted before this year's fair, and 1,145 people completed the new Garden Walk which featured 10 garden areas at State Fair Park.
*Fairgoers took over 120,000 slides down the famous Giant Slide on their burlap sacks, as well as more than 110,000 Sky Glider trips across State Fair Park. Almost 1,400 people were catapulted 170 feet into the air in the Ejection Seat, going from 0-70 miles per hour in less than three seconds. More than 16,000 young adults enjoyed the power jump trampolines.
*The Wisconsin Bakers Association sold over 387,000 cream puss and Arctic Glacier supplied vendors with more than 467,000 pounds of ice. Catalano's kept Fairgoers hydrated with over 44,000 lemonades consumed during the 11 days.
*In the Wisconsin Products Pavilion the Real Wisconsin Cheese Grill sold almost 62,000 grilled cheese sandwiches and the Wisconsin Potato Growers served up over 57,000 baked potatoes. The new Beer Donuts at Miller Lite Sports Bar & Grill proved to be popular, with more than 18,000 consumed. The Washington County FFA served up over 35,000 Ice Cream Sundaes. Fairgoers filled (and re-filled) more than 85,000 Wisconsin State Fair Souvenir Cups throughout the 11 days.
*All three major auctions during the fair were very successful. The Governor's Red, White and Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction raised $239,750, nearly $18,000 more than 2012. The Grand Champion Steer exhibited by Dan Spoerlein sold for $30,000. The Governor's Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction raised more than $80,000 and set a new record for the Grand Champion Flavored Bacon, from Newton Meats, which sold for $6,200. The Blue Ribbon Cheese & Butter Auction raised more than $30,000 for dairy promotion at the fair and youth scholarships.
In addition to great exhibits, entertainment and weather, I believe state fair officials did a great job of boosting attendance with admission promotions that not only provided fairgoers ways to save money but also contributed to worthy causes.
*More than 31,000 fairgoers received discounted admission on Wells Fargo $2 Day benefiting Hunger Task Force, donating 122,500 pounds of food as well as over $7,000 in cash donations to the Hunger Task Force.
*As part of Kohl's Family Value Day on Aug. 5, more than 23,000 adults received admission for just $5 and almost 16,000 children ages 11 and under received free admission. In turn, Kohl's Cares and the Wisconsin State Fair once again hosted an extremely successful "Fair Day" at Children's Hospital on Aug. 6. On Aug. 7, as part of UW-Madison Day, some 7,300 patrons received discounted admission and in turn donated over 7,300 new school supplies to Milwaukee Public Schools.
*Both Weather Tight and U.S. Cellular hosted successful coupon promotions, with more than 16,000 coupons redeemed for discounted admission. On the final day of the fair, 8,700 veterans, military personnel and their families received free admission as part of Miller High Life Veteran's & Military Recognition Day.
I attended the first three days of state fair this year. I saw lots of parents and grandparents spending the day at the fair with their children and grandchildren for a very family-friendly cost which I think really helped bring out the crowds and boost attendance.
Having the right balance between educational and commercial exhibits, entertainment, food and fun activities as well as providing admission promotions to get more families to come to the fair along with a great stretch of weather made for a very successful 2013 Wisconsin State Fair. Kudos to state fair organizers for a job well done!