HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A solid start to the 2018 Kansas State Fair, coupled with new programming and activities and strong concert sales, helped boost overall revenue and attendance over last year’s numbers.
This year’s preliminary attendance was 327,965 – a 1.76 percent increase over last year. Preliminary reports also show substantial growth in revenue. Those figures are still being tabulated, but several vendors indicated this year’s fair was one of the best in several years.
“The Kansas State Fair is at a pivotal turning point,” said Interim General Manager Bob Moeder. “This year’s numbers reflect a change in direction. We have a really solid team who stayed focused, helping us grow and expand the fair during this transitional year.”
Moeder added it is the second year for the fair to use Etix, an electronic ticketing system that helps the Fair obtain a more accurate count of the number of fairgoers entering each gate.
“We had great crowds, great weather and, based on all of the positive feedback from fairgoers and vendors, a great fair experience,” he said.
Janene Starks, the fair’s commercial exhibits coordinator, said commercial exhibitors reported higher sales and some said their sales doubled from last year.
Enhanced revenue also means more sales tax generated during the 2018 Fair, which will help with building maintenance across the fairgrounds. Kansas lawmakers during the past session passed legislation enabling the fair to retain a large portion of the state sales tax revenue generated annually.
The law, which went into effect July 1, is estimated to bring in nearly $400,000 a year, Moeder said.
“The increase in revenue will help us get a jump-start on capital improvements, which will make the fair even better going forward,” Moeder said.
The 2018 fair saw other increases, as well. Competitive Exhibits Director Jenn Galloway said livestock entries were up for the 4-H and FFA Grand Drive, plus all open livestock shows.
“This year’s Grand Drive was a great event and another success,” Galloway said. “We had a lot of good competition this year.”
Grand Drive sponsorships were also up from 2017, she said. Fair officials announced during the Grand Drive Gala Sept. 8 a new youth scholarship program that will begin in 2019. The Grand Drive Committee will award 10 $1,000 scholarships to secondary and post-secondary students who have demonstrated excellence, commitment and integrity as ambassadors of the Kansas State Fair junior livestock program.
Overall sponsorship dollars from supporting partners also were up this year, reaching a new record, Moeder said.
Moeder mentioned this year’s grandstand lineup helped boost the number of tickets sold to the fair’s eight concerts. Fairgoers purchased nearly 24,000 concert tickets this year, up from 15,000 last year. The popular grandstand lineup included Country Music Association nominees Dan + Shay the first weekend, which sold nearly 5,000 tickets. The Beach Boys were the fair’s top seller, with about 5,600 tickets purchased.
“We established a number of new events and activities at this year’s Fair,” Moeder said. “These events are the building blocks that will help make next year’s Kansas State Fair even stronger and grow the Fair in the future.”
The 2019 Kansas State Fair is Sept. 6-15.