The Illinois State Fair again fell short of a million fairgoers, with the eleven-day total about 848,000, compared to last year's 961,000. Fair manager Amy Bliefnick says the gate and parking revenue is down 6.9 percent, and headcount is down 11 percent. “We had rain eight out of the eleven days,” “and we also had seven events that we cancelled, so I, quite honestly, am surprised that we aren't down by a lot more.”
The discrepancy in those percentages, Bliefnick says, is because the first night of the fair, Preview Night, is free of charge. Rain – which forced the cancellation of the Twilight Parade – held down attendance that evening, which this year was Thursday, Aug. 7.
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As for the grandstand shows, most drew in the 4,000-6,000 range. The big exceptions: Florida Georgia Line, about 15,000; and Robin Thicke, about 1,200.
At the time Bliefnick booked Thicke, it looked like a good get. What happened?
“Last year, he was one of the hottest things in the country,” Bliefnick said. “We assumed that would continue this year; he cancelled concerts throughout the country. But those who came said he did a great show.”