Des Moines – Perhaps you saw it mentioned on CNN or Fox News or ABC News? Read about it in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times? With an extraordinary amount of national media attention and a strong lineup of entertainment, the Iowa State Fair rolled to an unaudited attendance of 1,103,063 according to Gary Slater, Fair Manager. Despite four days of rain, strong statewide promotional support, a new free stage venue and solid entertainment, helped bring the number up over 2005 totals.
Gate admission was $10 but advance sale tickets of $6 were heavily promoted and provided a great value for the customer said fair Marketing Director Lori Chappell. “Extreme Sunday”, held the final day of the fair, August 20th, also proved to be a great success pulling an estimated 112,295 people through the gate and setting a record att
endance for the fair’s last day. Chappell said activities included free performances by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the Buckinghams, Raven and two human cannonball launches.
Operating on a 14 million dollar budget, the fair has the challenge of continuing agricultural education with displays and exhibits in an increasingly less agrarian society. Despite the trends, agricultural education remains a focus for the fair. The fair is not subsidized by the state so it must meet budget demands on its own.
Jim Murphy’s Bluegrass Shows provided the midway as it has for over twenty years. Their current contract runs through 2016. MegaPass discount wristbands were offered for the entire fair. Ride grosses for the event were not disclosed. New to the midway for 2006 was Michael Wood's Techno Power.
No one goes hungry at the Iowa State Fair with over 200 food stands to choose from along the midway. With initial reports suggesting sales were up this year, many vendors reported a good fair despite the rain. Food vendors include the Iowa Pork producers Association, the Iowa Cattleman’s Association, Cunningham Enterprises, Benoit Enterprises, and Campbell’s Concessions.
The fair also had a full grandstand entertainment lineup. Ranging from stock car shows to “An Evening With James Taylor”, the lineup offered something for everyone. Pricing started at $10 for adults with tickets as high as $38 for the James Taylor concert. Most ticket prices were at the $20 level. Entertainers were as follows: Brad Paisley, James Taylor, I.M.C.A. Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks and Modifieds, Rock N’ Roll Reunion XXVII with Tommy James and the Shondells, Bowzer and the Sting Rays, Herman’s Hermits, Fabian and the Crystals; Montgomery Gentry, Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models, Trace Adkins, Grand Outlaw National Tractor and Truck Pull, George Jones, Smash Mouth with Bowling for Soup, State Fair Monster Truck Championships and Big and Rich.