Closer look at the 2018 Fair

Fair sees increases of 46% in concert sales, 5.7% in gate revenues, 4% in attendance

With final numbers in, it was definitively a good year at the 2018 Alaska State Fair, which took place August 23 – September 3 at the fairgrounds in Palmer.

Concerts, attendance & revenue up

Most notably, ticket sales for our AT&T Concert Series were up 46.3 percent from 2017 and 8.5 percent up from 2016, with a total of 28,515 tickets sold in 2018. Concerts featuring breakthrough country star Luke Combs and acclaimed violinist Lindsey Stirling were sold out, while Goo Goo Dolls and Juice WRLD were near capacity.

Fair attendance was up as well, with attendance of 292,973 in 2018, an increase of 4.2 percent over 2017’s attendance of 281,129. Overall Fair revenue was also up in 2018, highlighted by a 5.7 percent increase in gate revenues compared to 2017.

The Fair saw a notable increase in advance ticket sales, which were 23.3 percent higher than last year. A total of 14,184 fairgoers took advantage of the Fair’s new option to purchase concert tickets combined with Fair admission, contributing significantly to the advance sales increase. The purchase of single admissions online and Three Bears season passes was also up in 2018.

Following the historical trend, the highest-attended days were the first Saturday, with 38,416 fairgoers, and the second Saturday and Sunday, with 44,532 and 45,465 visitors, respectively. In fact, the second weekend was so well-attended that we used our overflow parking on those two days – even the RV lot was full!

More good news

There were several other positive indicators of a strong year at the Fair, including:

  • Sold-out shows for the Demolition Derby and all three All-Star Monster Trucks shows at the RAM Truck Grandstand.
  • 23 new state records set in crops exhibit entries, including Dale Marshall’s 1,471.5-pound pumpkin. Marshall’s gargantuan gourd also took first-place in the 2018 Midnight Sun Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off. See the full list of new state records and all the results from the pumpkin weigh-off.
  • Huge fun at this year’s Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, with Brian Shunskis coming in first with his 94-pound entry. See full results here.
  • New recycling record. Volunteers collected a grand total of 45,703 pounds – or 22.9 tons – of recyclable materials at this year’s Fair, setting a new 10-year record.
  • $224,000 raised at the 4-H Junior Market Livestock Auction, up almost $10,000 from last year in a continuing upward trend.
  • Strong vendor showing, with a total of 448 full-time vendors, including 70 food vendors, as well as 61 daily vendors and 17 vendors in the Gathering Place.

New things to note

A good Fair is always looking for ways to grow and improve, and there were several new things of note at the 2018 Fair:

  • Online parking. This year for the first time, we offered the ability to purchase parking online. A total of 1,913 fairgoers took advantage of this new feature, which allowed them to buy a single day or season parking pass online before they headed out to the fairgrounds.
  • Carnival wristbands. We offered carnival wristbands that, for the first time, included Fair admission and unlimited carnival rides for just $50 on Monday and Tuesday, August 27 and 28, when purchased in advance. A total of 925 fairgoers took advantage of the offer.
  • $5 admission. To say “thank you” to first responders and members of the military, we were pleased to offer $5 admission on Military Appreciation Day, Sunday, September 2, and First Responders Day, Monday, September 3. A total of 7,149 members of the military and their families and 253 first responders took advantage of the new discount.
  • Brew Tap. An estimated 400 fairgoers raised a glass to the future of Alaska’s farmlands at the first-ever Brew Tap. The event, held Friday, August 31, featured local brews and live music. $1 from every beer purchased – for a total of $591 – was donated to the Alaska Farmland Trust, which is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s farmlands for future generations.
  • New restrooms. We opened the doors to the new restrooms on the Yellow Trail this year. The new facility was designed to meet the needs of increased fairgoer traffic in this area, which features popular venues including the RAM Truck Grandstand and the Gathering Place.
  • Fair Queen.We were excited to bring back an old tradition with the crowning of a Fair Queen. At the August 23 coronation, we announced the members of the 2018 royal court, including Fair Queen Tala Ianu, Princesses Samantha Wannerand Bianca Temple, and Cultural Ambassador and People’s Chose Awardee Hannah Noble.
  • New annual meeting date. A special membership meeting was held during the board reception on opening day of the Fair, where Fair members voted to change the annual membership meeting date from the second Thursday in February to the third Wednesday in May.

Mark your calendar

The 2019 Fair will be held August 22 – September 2, and with the theme “Crazy Good,” it is sure to be a good time. Hope to see you there!

Author: Melissa Keefe

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