Ohio State Fair reports lowest attendance since 2004

Fair organizers attributed the decrease to the tragic Fire Ball accident and rainy weather

The manufacturer of a ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair says years of corrosion led to the fatal accident.
Passers by look at the fire ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio State Fair ended its run on Sunday with an estimated 801,031 attendees entering the gates, marking the lowest attendance since the fair switched to a 12-day schedule.

According to the fair, the count reflects a 13 percent decrease from 2016, when 921,214 fair visitors were recorded.

Fair organizers attributed the decrease to the tragic Fire Ball accident and rainy weather.

The last several years have seen attendance figures grow almost annually, but total attendance does fluctuate from year to year based on a number of factors,” explained General Manager Virgil Strickler. “This year, of course, was not a normal Fair year. Opening Day’s tragic ride accident, which closed the Midway for several days, coupled with a few days of cool, rainy weather, certainly contributed to the dip in attendance.  Nevertheless, we thank the hundreds of thousands of devoted fairgoers who supported this great end-of-summer tradition,” he said.

While the 2017 fair had fewer people attend than any other year since changing to the 12-day format in 2004, the average daily attendance still surpassed any of the last three years of the 17-day fair (66,753 in 2017 vs. 59,490 in 2003).

Organizers say they are already looking forward to the 2018 fair.

“We’re already making preparations for the 2018 Ohio State Fair. We strive to create a quality experience for our patrons, and our team will continue to work toward making enhancements to provide a top-notch event that honors our great state,” Strickler added.

The 2018 Ohio State Fair will run July 25 – August 5, 2018.

Historical Ohio State Fair attendance numbers.

  • 2016: 921,214
  • 2015: 982,305
  • 2014: 916,724
  • 2013: 903,824
  • 2012: 840,306
  • 2011: 833,304
  • 2010: 812,237
  • 2009: 826,037
  • 2008: 809,321
  • 2007: 806,301
  • 2006: 814,152
  • 2005: 802,074
  • 2004: 850,218
  • 2003: 1,011,331*
  • 2002: 969,261*
  • 2001: 950,419*
    *Denotes 17-day Fair. The length of the Ohio State Fair was changed from 17 days to 12 days in 2004.

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