Delaware State Fair attendance drops from 2012
By Mark Fowser

Updated Friday, August 2, 2013 - 4:35am

More than 228,000 visitors attended the 2013 Delaware State Fair during its recently-completed ten-day run in Harrington.

That's down from last year's total attendance.

Fair officials say temperatures in the upper 90s for the first few days of the fair likely kept the crowds down.

Ticket sales for some of the grandstand events were also lower than expected.

Fair officials hope to get an earlier start to line up some strong headliners for next year.

Carnival gross was down slightly, less than two-percent.

On the positive side, the livestock auction set a new record, and vending space was fully occupied.

The 2014 Delaware State Fair will be held July 17th through July 26th.

(The following is a news release from the Delaware State Fair with quotes from Fair officials)
The Delaware State Fair is a place where you can celebrate what’s great and as the theme of the 2013 Fair, this year was no different. Attendance for the 2013 Fair was over 228,000 down from 2012 numbers with extremely hot weather during the first 4 days of Fair and a smaller grandstand entertainment audience than expected as the main reasons for the drop off of attendance.
As always, weather played a significant role effecting attendance throughout the 10-days of Fair. Temperatures ranged from a high of 97 degrees on Thursday July 18th to a low of 64 degrees on Friday July 26th. Fair guests endured actual air temperatures in excess of 97 degrees through the first weekend with a significant change for the better occurring the second half of the ten-day run of Fair.
The 2013 Delaware State Fair’s Summer Concert Series in the M&T Bank Grandstand offered diverse entertainment and showcased the performance hosting capability of the permanent stage now in its third year of service. “We had hoped for stronger ticket sales and realize that this was not the strongest of entertainment lineups we have featured on the grandstand stage. This year’s entertainment lineup was difficult to fill and we were fortunate to have Luke Bryan with Florida Georgia Line and Jeff Dunham to highlight this year’s offerings. We are already hard at work for 2014 with four concert offers already being made in hopes of getting an even earlier start for next year,” said General Manager Bill DiMondi.
This year’s lineup showcased a sellout show by country artist Luke Bryan with special guest Florida Georgia Line and a show from comedian Jeff Dunham rounded out the top two selling shows. Other shows offered were Christian artist Mercy Me, and Country artists Trace Adkins with the Henningsens and Dierks Bentley with Will Hoge. Rock and Pop fans were entertained by Three Doors Down with Finger Eleven, Victoria Justice with Pentatonix and Austin Mahone.
On the midway, Wade Shows provided 55 attractions with the carnival gross down slightly (less than 2%) compared to 2012. Included in the ride lineup was a newly refurbished Huss Enterprise, which was made to look brand new in the Wade Shows winter quarters. Wade Shows also brought three brand new rides to the midway; an exciting zip line ride, A.R.M. Rock Star and a Zamperla Surf's Up. The Big Wheel (Ferris Wheel) sporting a brand new LED highly animated light package was by far the most popular attraction on the carnival midway.
The big news on the carnival midway was not found in the rides but in the tickets. Wade Shows introduced their new cashless ticketing system in 2013, eliminating the need for paper tickets. Frank Zaitshik, Wade Shows owner said, “This was the first introduction of the new system at a State Fair and the results were excellent. The system was a tremendous success." The system operated out of a new ticketing trailer on the midway and produced real time results used for operational and financial oversight. Carnival and Fair officials can analyze data as it comes in and make decisions based upon that data including determining the operational status of and popularity of any particular ride or attraction based on an instantaneous determination of ridership. All riders’ wrist bands or “fun cards” are scanned at every ride and attraction and their validity and available ride credit balances are verified and debited as appropriate.
An additional benefit of the system is its ability to help enhance customer service. For instance, if a customer experienced a lost or stolen wristband, this missing band can easily be replaced and the old one voided in the system so that no further riding can occur. If a customer claims the child was unable to ride because of height requirements or illness, the wristband can be scanned and the information verified. "The information is of great assistance in making these kinds of customer service decisions", he added.
There were significant enhancements made to the operations systems in advance of the 2013 Delaware State Fair. The new main gate queuing and patron shuttle drop-off and loading systems at the main gate were welcomed additions to the Fair. All four-gate entrances received upgrades with new ticket booths, signage and modified queuing systems. Due to the popularity of the “Marketplace Tent” last year, the size was increased another 50% this year and the Fair enjoyed 100% occupancy with a waiting list already developing for the 2014 Fair. The larger footprint allowed for an increase of 18 new vendors, from 65 to 83 vendors. “Once again vendors and patrons alike loved the larger, air-conditioned space,” says Robin Rockemann, Rentals and Concessions Manager.
Assistant General Manager Danny Aguilar commented on the Fair’s continued commitment to offer great entertainment for the price of admission. “The price of gate admission covers several entertainment offerings throughout the grounds. We featured the return of the very popular Circus Hollywood, presented by Sussex County Federal Credit Union, the Giraffic Menagerie Petting Zoo, Racing Pigs, Roberto the Magnificent (Juggler), Catherine Hickland (Hypnotist), Bill Robison (Mime), PRCA sanctioned Painted Pony Rodeo, Craft Beer sampling, Sounds of Summer Concert Series with over ten bands featured, Ice Show presented by PNC Bank, Gospel Show, Kids’ Health Fair, Carousel Organ and much more,” says Aguilar.
Although in our 94th year, the Delaware State Fair remains true to its roots as an agricultural fair through its dedication to the exhibitors. The animals on the fairgrounds remain a great attraction to the young and old alike with 288 horses, 720 goats, 411 sheep, 411 swine, 92 beef cattle, 171 dairy cattle and 950 poultry present in the barns. The number of animals exhibited in the swine department was up 9% closely followed by the number of animals exhibited in the goat department showing a 4% increase. The Junior Livestock Auction, which represents the culmination of full year’s hard work and dedication, completes an important early agribusiness education program for many of our livestock exhibitors. This year, the auction experienced a record 8% increase in the proceeds compared to the best previous year on record. A record-breaking total of $183,000 was raised selling 129 animals compared to our previous high of approximately $170,000.
The Fair played host to 51 corporate sponsors this year. Some of the sponsors included M&T Bank, Coke, Food Lion, Lego, Delaware Electric Cooperative, Discover Bank, Comcast, Grotto Pizza, Delaware Lottery, Pratt Insurance, Sussex County Federal Credit Union, L&W Insurance, among several others. According to Danny Aguilar, “Continued support provided by sponsors allows the Fair to provide our patrons with a variety of great entertainment. The second annual Hunger Relief Day sponsored by Food Lion was a wonderful example of how a sponsor contributes to not only to the Fair but the community as a whole. When fairgoers brought five Food Lion brand canned goods to the Fair on Monday July 22nd, they received one free gate admission. The continued generosity of our patrons surpassed last year’s 15,000 pounds with almost 21,000 pounds of canned goods being collected during the one day event.”
Overall, the 2013 Delaware State Fair was a true celebration of what’s great in Delaware and the Fair continues it preparation for next years’ 95th anniversary.
The fair dates for the 2014 Delaware State Fair are: Thursday July 17, 2014 through Saturday July 26, 2014.

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