With a final attendance tally of more than 2.1 million, Minnesotans came out of the gate ahead of 2018 and never looked back. Record-setting attendance on the first Thursday and Friday really set us up here, creating a big enough attendance buffer that even a somewhat rainy pair of Mondays (womp womp) couldn't bring down the cumulative total enough to drop us back to last year's levels.
Day-for-day, we outpaced last year from the get-go, making it harder to claim 2018's 2-million-busting mark was a fluke.
Half of this year's fair days set new attendance records, and while a couple topped the previous ones by a sliver of just a few thousand attendees, both Fridays roundly smashed records previously set in 2016 and 2017.
In fact, every daily record but one has been newly set in the last three years. The lone holdout? Record attendance on the first Sunday of the fair was set in 1994 — and is still unbroken 25 years later.
State Fair archives from 1994 indicate that was a particularly pleasant and sunny day, but we'll put our money on a sold-out grandstand concert by country singer Reba McEntire being the biggest draw back then. Her headlining performance that Sunday night brought more than 22,000 people through the gates.
A little rain, sure, but high temperatures each day were comfortably in the 70s — a far cry from recent years of heat and humidity advisories. It made for one of the coolest fair stretches since 2010, a nice cap to a summer that has us heat-waved out. With Labor Day behind us, we're ready for a crisp fall.