2011 California State Fair Wraps Up With Good Weather, Big Fun, Strong Revenue

SACRAMENTO – (August 1, 2011) The California State Fair wrapped up its 158th year on Sunday, July 31, in traditional State Fair style – with the nightly fireworks finale, corn dogs, and plenty of BIG FUN! Throughout its 18-day run, fairgoers were encouraged to enjoy “The Fun Just Got Bigger” and take part in the affordable family entertainment.

This was the second year the State Fair moved away from its traditional August schedule to an earlier start date in July. As a result, families didn’t have to worry about children being back in school, and instead could enjoy all the fair had to offer.

On Tuesday, July 26, 80,765 people visited the State Fair on Kids Day; a record number of guests for a weekday. Attendance figures for 2011 include paid attendance finishing up approximately 2% over 2010, at 521,083. Total attendance tallied at 736,355, a slight decrease of 1%, however, parking revenues were up 9.2%. Carnival Midway commissions are estimated to be up 3.3% along with food and beverage commssions to the fair up 22%. The 2011 average daily attendance was 40,909, up 5% from 2010 (18 days vs. 19 days). All numbers reported are preliminary and unaudited.

Norb Bartosik, CEO and General Manager of the California Exposition & State Fair said, “The numbers show that Californians came out in droves to support the fair and for that we say thanks! We are particulary pleased that consumers spent more on food, at the carnival, and at commercial vendors. On track horse racing handle increased 11% from last year.”

More than 100 food vendors participating in this year’s fair delighted fairgoers with everything from maggot melts and aligator-on-a-stick, to more conventional menu items like fresh fruits and vegetables. And from all indications, this year’s visitors came to the fair with hefty appetites. Vendors reported this year’s sales included:

– 250,000 corn dogs
– Almost 50,000 funnel cakes
– 11,000 deep-fried Twinkies
– Almost 70,000 ice cream cones

In addition, the State Fair drew large crowds for big name acts like Fab Four, Blue Oyster Cult, Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitlan, MC Hammer, Neon Trees, Lee Greenwood, Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players and the SOS Band, Aju Vu, War, Casey James, Moon Starr featuring Michael Firestone, Choo Choo Soul featuring Geneveve, Reo Speedwagon, Three Dog NIght, and Starship.

Special attractions at the 2011 State Fair included:

“Big Bugs” Exhibit featuring gigantic robotic insects that gave visitors a glimpse of life as an insect.
“Kangaroo Joey’s Big Adventure” offered fairgoers a chance to travel through various continents with Joey’s menagerie of live critters.
The “Sac Mile” Motorcycle Race attracted alomst 8,000 people who enjoyed the return of this event for the first time in 10 years.
Another enourmously popular attraction among fairgoers was a redesigned and relocated livestock nursery resulting in the highest possible safety and comfort for the animals.

A variety of specials and promotions also helped the fair achieve a successful season including:

The Poppy Pak was a family favorite with four general admission tickets, four ride vouchers, and a parking pass for a savings of 43% over regular pricing.
Every Tuesday was Kids Day when the State Fair offered FREE admission for children 12 and under, and Butler Amusements offered $1 rides for the entire family.
Armed Forces/First Responders Day when the State Fair offered FREE admission to all military, law enforcement, and first responder personnel in or out of uniform with appropriate ID.
Every Friday was Senior Friday when the State Fair offered fairgoers 62 and older admission for $8 up until 8 p.m. along with FREE rides on the Grand Carousel and the Giant Gondola Wheel.
The Read to Ride program encouraged children grades K-8 to read two books in exchange for two FREE ride vouchers.
100 Golden Deals! The Ultimate Coupon Book, enabled fairgoers to save as much as $3,000 on food and shopping.This was a first time offer and resulted in more than 11,000 books sold.

As in past years, public safety remains the State Fair’s number one priority.

“Thanks to the Cal Expo Police Department, there were no major safety incidences,” said Bartosik. “This annual event creates special moments and we do everything in our power to make families and friends feel safe and secure. The State Fair remains the best deal in all of Northern California for family fun!”