Sunny Skies Bring Attendance Spike to N.Y. State Fair

8 Oct

This wonder dog excites with a show on the midway at the N.Y. State Fair.

Good weather and a large and varied line-up of free and paid musical acts helped lead the New York State Fair to its third-best attendance at 999,845, a three-percent increase over last year’s 971,273.

The Syracuse-based fair, which ran from Aug. 26-Sept. 6, has only topped 1 million visitors twice, in 2001 and 2002, said public relations director Fred Pierce.

“The thing that makes us real happy this year is that we did break a record with paid attendance,” Pierce said. “It was the highest it’s ever been.”
That figure was 609,542. “Most of our non-paid is children 12 and under, who are free, and we have two senior days where people 60 years old and older get in free, plus a veterans day.”

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber was a sellout in the New York State Fair Grandstand, which seats between 16,000 and 17,000 concertgoers. He drew 16,314.

Rush was the second-best attended concert with 12,758 fans. Louisville, Ky.-based bookers Triangle Talent is in its second year of booking acts for the fair after the retirement of Joe LaGuardia. “Triangle Talent put it together and said Rush had a very strong base in central New York, and they proved correct,” Pierce said.

Ticket prices for Bieber were $55 and $45 and for Rush, $65 and $55.

Other paid concerts, attendance and ticket prices were Rascal Flatts/11,888/$65, $55; Rhianna/9,542/$55, $45; Aerosmith/9,260/$104; Tim McGraw with Montgomery Gentry/9,000/$75, $65; and comedian Jeff Dunham/7,746/$40.

The line-up reflects the fair’s desire to have a concert for all fairgoers when it comes to concerts.

“That was our aim,” Pierce said. “We wanted to provide something for everybody knowing that we have a lot of diversity here in New York when it comes to music. We wanted to have at least one concert everybody would want to go to.”

Just to sweeten the pot, the fair also offered a line-up of free acts on the Chevy Court Stage, an outdoor venue in a huge green surrounded by the fair’s exhibit buildings that allows nearly 30,000 people to see concerts. Estimated crowd size for one act, Lady Antebellum, came in at 29,800.

The entertainment budget is approximately $4 million, Pierce said.

Strates Shows provided the midway for the New York State Fair and was up 6 percent over the previous highest revenues, Pierce said. Pay-one-price wristbands cost $25 and were good on six of the fair’s 12 days, Pierce said. Ride coupons cost $1 each and rides required two to five coupons.

Patrons also were asked to submit photos of the fair to the Facebook page, and those who submitted winning photos were given gift bags filled with state fair items.

The marketing department also doubled the fair’s e-mail list, so they could send blasts to potential patrons, by holding a drawing for concert tickets to those who submitted their addresses.

“We did contests last year but we did more of them this year, and we didn’t do a photo contest last year,” Pierce said.

Pierce did not know how the marketing budget would shake out for the year, but the overall fair budget is $18 million.

Gate admission was $10 at the gate and $6 in advance, and the fair worked hard to drive people out to get tickets before the fair, which resulted in the highest pre-sales ever.

“It’s the economy,” Pierce said. “It’s still a challenge for a lot of people, so we made sure we got the word out about the availability of advance tickets. It was 30 percent price break if you bought in advance and people took to it.”

Next year’s fair will be Aug. 25-Sept. 5. – Mary Wade Burnside

Interviewed for this article: Fred Pierce, (315) 487-7711.


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