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More than 337,400 people attended the 2019 state fair, an increase of 3% over 2018.

September 25, 2019

4 Min Read
night time view of Kansas State Fair carnival rides
BEST IN DECADES: Pat Repp, with North American Midway Entertainment, the fair’s carnival company, called this year’s Kansas State Fair one of the best fairs the company has experienced in several decades. The carnival saw a 13.3% increase in midway sales over 2018.

Blue skies, along with new programming centered on celebrating Kansas, helped boost Kansas State Fair attendance by about 3% in 2019.

More than 337,400 people came to the state’s largest gathering, which ended Sunday. Those figures don’t include visitors who came in free before 11 a.m. on Sept. 6, the fair’s kickoff day. Fair officials estimate another 6,000 to 10,000 people strolled through the gates on that first morning.

About 328,000 people attended the 2018 Kansas State Fair.

“This year’s fair took an already wonderful Kansas event to new heights — bringing residents from all across the state together to celebrate everything that makes Kansas so special,” says Robin Jennison, general manager for the state fair. “We had beautiful weather, and we also made some positive improvements.

“The goal was to convince more Kansans to head to the fair, and we did.”

The fair launched a new logo and brand in January that focuses on “Celebrating All Things Kansas.” To incorporate that mission, the fair added an Explore Kansas Festival event the first weekend, which showcased more than 40 Kansas communities in Gottschalk Park. The event was so successful that community officials have expressed an interest in coming back in 2020 to help expand the festival.

The fair ended its 10 days on a high. The final day, Sept. 15, focused on promoting Kansas outdoor tourism with children and families learning more about fishing and shooting sports. The fair’s first-ever Pronto Pup eating contest was so successful that it will be expanded next year. The All Star Monster Truck Tour packed the grandstand with more than 5,000 people attending the event. Children 5 and under were allowed in for free and were not included in that count.

“This event replaced the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull, which drew about 2,500 people for the past several years,” Jennison says. “We wanted to find a family friendly event, and the monster trucks worked. Many fairgoers told me that it was the most people they have seen in our grandstands in a long time. It was a great show and a great way to end the fair."

Positives from 2019

Jennison pointed out a few other positives from 2019:

A new Free Stage Concert Series took place Tuesday and Thursday at Bretz and Young Injury Lawyers Arena. Tuesday’s performance by Mason Ramsey drew 1,700 fairgoers.

More than 12,000 youth attended the fair through Kansas’ Largest Classroom program. That included 100 high school bands.

The fair established a new Education Center in the old “Do Art Building.” This year, the curriculum was centered on the importance of pollinators and the Kansas dairy industry.

John Beatty’s “Strongman” show  showing man with sledge hammer
STRONGMAN: John Beatty’s strongman show, along with a comic hypnotist and a juggler provided free entertainment on the fairgrounds and drew large crowds.

After many comments and concerns about their absence in 2018, the fair rented a new and improved tram system to transport fairgoers around the grounds. The new system is safer and more convenient for fairgoers.

More exhibitors entered competitions this year. The fair also launched several new contests that were popular, including butter sculpting and beer brewing.

The fair's free entertainment, including strongman John Beatty and comic hypnotist Ron Diamond, drew plenty of crowds as well.

Revenues up in many areas

Being a fee-funded agency, the fair relies on great partners. Sponsorship dollars were up more than 40% from 2018. Meanwhile, corporate and group sales were up 3%.

Season passes, which allowed fairgoers to save $60 on 10 gate admissions, were so popular in 2019 that the fair sold out of them. More will be offered in 2020.

Fair officials are still figuring vendor revenue. However, many vendors say the strong weekend crowds will help boost this year’s bottom line. 

Pat Repp, with North American Midway Entertainment, the fair’s carnival company, called it one of the best fairs the company has experienced in several decades. The carnival saw a 13.3% increase in midway sales over 2018. 

“That is the highest gross in the history of the Kansas State Fair on the carnival side,” Repp says. “We had perfect weather. The attendance was awesome. The fair did a great job with promotions. We had one of those dream fairs where everything worked out, and we hope to keep up the momentum next year.” 

Work on 2020 begins

Jennison noted while there were many successes, there are always areas that need improvement. Those changes will be explored in the coming months as the staff begins to work on the 2020 fair.

Everyone has their own idea of fun, he says. And this year’s fair included something for all audiences.

“What is fun to a 70-year-old grandfather is different than what is fun to his 18-year-old teenage grandson or granddaughter,” Jennison says. “That’s true, too, for someone who lives in the city versus someone who lives in the country. However, we feel the fair offers a wide variety of activities so that anybody — regardless of age, background or location — has an opportunity to come and have fun.”

Source: Kansas State Fair, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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