Despite triple digit heat indices, power outages, flooding and the cancelation of a concert at the Grandstand, the 2016 Illinois State Fair revenues remained on pace with figures from previous years. In fact, preliminary figures project that gross revenue estimates for the 2016 Illinois State Fair will surpass 2015 revenue levels.
2016 was the highest-grossing Grandstand line-up in State Fair history with tickets sales of $2.08 million. The sales figure eclipsed the previous record of $2.03 million set in 2013. Concerts like Meghan Trainor, Jake Owen, KISS, and Cole Swindell proved to be popular among fairgoers.
“Someone once stated that conducting the Illinois State Fair consisted of 15% planning and 85% weather, and after this year’s fair, I tend to believe it,” said State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon. “This year we battled obstacles at every turn: triple digit heat indices, power outages and seven and three quarter inches (7.75″) of rain. In one evening alone we saw a record 5.59 inches of rain which led to extensive flooding, parking lot closures and event cancellations. Yet, we still had thousands of people leave Springfield with memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.”
The Illinois State Fair continues to provide affordable entertainment and free educational opportunities for Illinoisans. In addition, the fair offers the State of Illinois an opportunity to highlight our state’s number one industry. This year an estimated 357,409 fairgoers attended the Illinois State Fair. While flooding forced the early closure of the fair on the first Friday (August 12), near perfect weather conditions followed for the first weekend (August 13-14). Historically, the first weekend of the fair is the highest attended dates of the Illinois State Fair.
Annually, the fair provides an economic impact to the city of Springfield and surrounding communities. “I’ve been attending the Illinois State Fair my entire life,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “I’ve seen, first hand, the number of people this fair puts to work from inside the fairgrounds to outside the fairgrounds. Not only that, but the people who come to the fair patronize our local restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and the Lincoln sites, which has a direct impact on our local economy.”
The most recent economic impact study conducted by the University of Illinois Regional Economics Applications Laboratory shows the Illinois State Fair contributes $86 million in business volume to the local economy. This includes $35 million for wages and salaries and $2.67 million in state sales tax revenue.
In addition to being the highest-grossing Grandstand line-up in State Fair history, the fair also broke a ticket sales record. 58,540 tickets were issued for the ten (10) Grandstand concerts, the most since 1999, when Grandstand attendance totaled 57,789. Meghan Trainor was the biggest draw selling 11,091 grandstand tickets, 3,632 more than the concert featuring KISS and the Dead Daisies (7,459).
Increased Youth Exhibitor Participation:
In September 2015, fair officials expanded the ages for exhibitors featured at the Illinois State Fair. This move was designed to allow more and continued youth participation in Illinois agriculture. The 2016 junior exhibitor numbers saw a 22-percent increase from 2015. Seven of the nine junior categories saw an increase, the exception being dairy and goat entries.
Sale of Champions Records:
Two records were broken, including one that may never be duplicated!
The grand champion steer, exhibited by Lucas Wisnefski of Stark County, fetched the highest price. It sold for $104,000, or $4,000 more than the previous record set in 2014.
This was also the first year an exhibitor in the Barrow category made a return appearance to the Governor’s Sale of Champions. This year, Lane Rinderer’s barrow sold for $41,750 to Monsanto, DeKalb Asgrow, and friends of the exhibitor. In 2013, Rinderer exhibited a different barrow that was named the Land of Lincoln Grand Champion. “I never even dreamed that I was going to be able to win it one time, let alone twice,” Rinderer told the Belleville News-Democrat. “It’s a dream for a lot of people. To be able to do it twice is incredible, unbelievable.”
Altogether, $248,175 was raised for the youth in Illinois agriculture. Each individual sale is split 80% to the youth exhibitor, 10% to Illinois FFA and 10% to Illinois 4-H foundation.
About the methodology:
Attendance was determined based on the number of tickets purchased and turned in at the gates. This takes into account anyone who contributed to the commerce of the Illinois State Fair. As in previous years, 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.
Below is the attendance breakdown per day at the 2016 Illinois State Fair:
Thursday, August 11 20,549
Friday, August 12 24,551
Saturday, August 13 52,089
Sunday, August 14 42,241
Monday, August 15 13,212
Tuesday, August 16 33,069
Wednesday, August 17 32,931
Thursday, August 18 24,316
Friday, August 19 30,799
Saturday, August 20 37,821
Sunday, August 21 45,832