Fewer people attended Illinois’ historic sites in 2011 than in 2010, but the numbers are beginning to level out, and that’s encouraging to the historic preservation agency. Agency spokesman Dave Blanchette says the gap between visitors in 2011 and 2010 is only a few thousand people, and it’s just a matter of time before attendance begins increasing again.
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“We do that through special events, drawing people who wouldn’t normally come to the sites by publicizing what the sites are about, and by working with the state and local convention and visitors bureaus to make people aware of the treasures we have here in Illinois,” he says.
Blanchette says the slow economic recovery and high gas prices have likely helped reduce attendance, but he says the leveling off of attendance numbers between years signals an imminent upswing.
Attendance varied by site. For example, Lincoln’s New Salem saw an increase in visitors while others saw a decrease. Blanchette says more than 1.9 million people visited state historic sites in 2011, versus 2 million in 2010.