The Great Minnesota Get-Together lived up to the hype this year, setting at least two one-day attendance records and most likely hitting an all-time high for its entire 12-day run.
Crowds at the Minnesota State Fair totaled 1,665,400 through Sunday, just 125,097 short of the record of 1,790,497 set for the fair’s full run in 2009. Brienna Schuette, marketing and communications manager, said Day 12 typically draws 125,000 to 150,000 visitors, although an unusually high number — about 164,000 — passed through the gates on the final day last year.
With help from Monday’s balmy weather, Schuette said a new total record was definitely within reach.
“I can’t be 100 percent sure, but it’s a beautiful day, so that certainly bodes well for us,” she said.
An official final count will have to wait for Tuesday’s “weigh-in.” Fair officials decide the total attendance by weighing most tickets in a special “weigh room,” then using that figure to calculate the number of tickets collected, she said. “It’s really the only way we can do it. If we had to hand-count them it would take much longer.”
This year’s fair already set two one-day attendance records — on Tuesday, a Day 6 record of 133,595, and on Saturday, a single-day record of 252,092.
Schuette pointed to several new features as reasons for the bigger crowds, including the West End Market, a dining and entertainment complex that replaced Heritage Square, and a transit hub with connections to the new Green Line light-rail line.
And there were three sold-out shows at the grandstand this year — Toby Keith with Colt Ford, Kid Rock with Blackberry Smoke and Tim McGraw with Ryan Kinder.
Other popular attractions this year included an appearance by four new Timberwolves players and a Military Appreciation Day parade, both on Tuesday.