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State

2018 Illinois State Fair attendance down 8% from 2017

The Illinois State Fair in Springfield saw 369,144 people walk or drive through its gates last month, an 8 percent drop compared to last year's fair, state officials reported Friday.

Officials noted, however, that fairgoers this year appeared to spend more money than in 2017, according to an early look at vendors' sales receipts.

This year's attendance total was lower than the 401,648 who attended the 2017 fair but higher than the 347,855 who passed through the gates during the 2016 event that was plagued by flooding rains, extreme heat and power outages. The 2015 state fair, the first to be counted using a different formula, attracted 411,547.

Fair officials noted this year's milder weather and limited rain helped the numbers.

"We are very proud of what we offered fairgoers during this year's state bicentennial celebration at the Illinois State Fair," said State Fair Manager Luke Sailer. "We once again provided family-friendly, affordable entertainment for our fairgoers. From free concerts, to harness and auto racing in the Grandstand, to the fair's first-ever roller coaster, we offered attractions for every member of the family."

The highest-attended day of the 2018 fair was the first Saturday, Aug. 11, with 44,209. The least-attended was Monday, Aug. 13, with 24,824.

The 2018 fair drew $1,598,626 in admission and parking revenue during the 11-day run. A comparable number for the 2017 fair wasn't available due to differences in how the revenue number was calculated, said Denise Albert, a fair spokeswoman.

The Illinois Department of Revenue reports that as of Aug. 31, fair vendors' sales receipts totaled $1,392,497.21, an increase of 16 percent over the same date last year. Vendors have until Dec. 31 to submit their fair receipts to the state.

In the Grandstand, 51,675 tickets were sold to the nine concerts held during the 2018 fair. That's down from the record 59,023 tickets sold for last year's concerts.

Country star Luke Combs drew the biggest crowd in 2018, with 11,868 tickets sold. The next-biggest Grandstand concert was country music's Thomas Rhett, with 8,605 tickets, although that show was canceled due to rain, and refunds are being processed.

Foreigner with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts drew 7,327, while Illinois native and country singer Brett Eldredge sold 6,838 tickets.

Overall, the 2018 Grandstand lineup created $1,824,537 in total ticket revenue, down from the more than $2 million in ticket revenue last year.

Attendance was determined based on the number of tickets purchased and turned in at the gates. In addition, a formula provides multipliers, based on national averages, to count visitors who cannot be tracked by a ticket due to the fair's various free admission days.

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©2018 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

Visit The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill. at www.sj-r.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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