NDSF attendance a source of optimism

A still questionable economy, rough year on agriculture families, increased taxes – none of these things pointed to the probability of increased participation in the North Dakota State Fair.

Yet with the fair just a couple of days from its closing day and the early numbers are most promising.

Overall attendance over nine days was 318,248, up 19,171 from 2017. Fair Manager Renae Korslien attributed attendance to weather and the quality of free stage entertainment, including the 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit.

Nickelback was the most attended concert, with 16,626 people. Other concert numbers were Dierks Bentley, 11,876; Florida Georgia Line, 10,846; Cole Swindell, 8,159; Kip Moore, 6,895; Michael Ray, 5,286; and Cheap Trick, 4,211. Events and exhibit results are posted at ndstatefair.com.

Weather was definitely a factor. Most folks are used to NDSF week as being the hottest of the year. Instead, this year, patrons were able to enjoy notably temperate weather, including Saturday night when Nickeback reached its 16,000-plus audience in almost perfect conditions.

The quality of feature and free stage concerts were certainly a factor. This was not an easy year for programming, but NDSF pulled it off with aplomb, as signified by the enthusiasm of concertgoers through the week and particularly the last weekend.

Given the upward trend, there is no way to evaluate this year’s fair as anything but a success. And given the challenges it faced, this is an important piece of news. NDSF staff and volunteers did a wonderful job.

Hats off to the folks at the State Fair, to the volunteers who make it happen and to the patrons anticipate it each year. A very well job done indeed.