The Minnesota State Fair drew 1.8 million people this year to make it one of the top 10 most popular fairs ever, according to attendance records released Tuesday.
The turnstiles were as hot as a greasy cheese curd at first — setting a record for the second day of the fair of 164,741 on Friday, Aug. 25 — but then slowed this past weekend when triple-digit temps made the fairgrounds sweltering.
The fair's total attendance came to 1,835,826, about 6,000 fewer than last year, for the sixth most attended fair ever. The record of 2,126,551 was set in 2019.
"The things that we could control, I think we did an incredible job with," said State Fair CEO Renee Alexander, who was in her first year in the job after taking over for former CEO Jerry Hammer. Alexander, the fair's deputy general manager of entertainment and marketing for 18 years, said she was surprised again this year to see the deep roots and strong commitment people have for the fair.
"Everyone puts in so much effort to make this the special experience that it is," she said.
Other fair numbers:
The fair saw 33,000 entries in its agricultural and creative competitions.
The CHS Miracle of Birth Center welcomed 156 newborn animals, including 122 piglets, 10 calves and 24 lambs.
Total Grandstand attendance was 110,543, not including the 4,000 people who sat for the free State Fair Amateur Talent Contest finals.
The Purple Ribbon Auction on Saturday set 14 record prices and raised more than $1.2 million for the 115 4-H members who participated.
This year's fair featured 34 new foods and seven new food vendors.
Metro Transit reported 241,000 rides to and from the fairgrounds on State Fair Express buses, a 33% increase over last year. The big change was mostly due to the opening of a fourth Express Bus Park and Ride location in Blaine.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it's just 351 days until the 2024 Minnesota State Fair.