Attendance numbers skyrocket at 2018 Ohio State Fair


Sunday afternoon marked the final hours of the 2018 Ohio State Fair, and if early attendance numbers are any indication: it was a popular stop yet again for many Ohioans and tourists.

That's especially encouraging after the fair suffered a significant setback in attendance for 2017. As of end-of-day on Friday, gate attendance for the two-week long state fair was 703,111, up almost 95,000 over last year's total attendance during the same period.

As long as he’s worked for Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, Bob Bauer has been manning the sausage tent at the fair. In 22 years, this fair was one of the busiest he'd seen yet.

"Every fair is different. You never know from one to the next, what it's gonna be," Bauer said. "But (this year) you see lines out here, and they don't go away all day. And you see people coming up to the counter all the time."

There may be a combination of reasons for the jump in attendance.

Last year, day one at the fair was marred by the Fireball ride malfunction tragedy, which killed one fair-goer and injured several more. One current vendor who wanted to remain anonymous blamed the low 2017 attendance numbers on that.

But some attribute the better 2018 showing to superior offerings on the fairgrounds.

“I try to come at least twice every year, and it seems more crowded (this year)," said 22-year-old Cierra Johnson, who has attended each year since she was four years-old. "There are a lot more and better stands, and a diversity of stands, so I imagine that will attract more people."

Food vendors reported steady interest over the entire two-week period.

Some fair attractions are historically well-attended, like the ODNR "Natural Resource Park." A spokesman said he hadn't noticed a significant uptick in attendance, although he acknowledged that at least 40% of fair patrons visit the park every year.

"A lot of people stay in the park too, for the full day," said Jason Fallon. "We're constantly busy."

Final numbers for 2018 Ohio State Fair attendance are expected to be released sometime late Monday or Tuesday.

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