If the goal was to pull off an event without a major catastrophe, the Indiana State Fair passed the test. There was the infamous stagecoach wreck in the Coliseum, but there were no major injuries, although at least one person spent a short amount of time in the hospital. The weather cooperated for the most part, although there were a few hot days at the start and some thunderstorms at other times.
The fact that the fair officials had done their homework on weather events and safety precautions was obvious. Some people thought they did it perhaps a little too well. There was safety training for everyone who worked there, even if only for a short while. There was also communication with major exhibitors about what to do if bad weather approached. They did implement their plan when weather threatened.
The official fair tally was somewhat over 850,000 visitors during all 17 days. That does little to squelch complaints of vendors who say the fair drew that well at 12 days, and who believe that 17 days are just too many days to man their exhibit. The 17 days included plenty of slow time for many exhibitors.
One reported a total of three sales by noon on one weekday. That doesn't cover costs. Weekdays are an increasing problem, no matter how long the fair is. With more schools going to a balanced calendar, kids are in school in many cases by Aug. 1. The 2013 state fair begins Aug. 2.
The days of crowded main streets during the day, even on Farmer's Day, appear to be long gone. There was no problem maneuvering through the fairgrounds on Farmer's Day this year. Crowds typically pick up in the evenings.
Word behind the scenes is that some vendors and exhibitors still hope that fair officials will take a look at the 17-day schedule in the future and consider returning to a 12-day format.