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ARIZONA STATE FAIR HAS RECORD BREAKING YEAR
By MCW Staff
Phoenix - Excellent weather, rotation of short-term attractions and an amazing Qwest Concert lineup combined to draw 1,303,690 guests to the Arizona State Fair (azstatefair.com) this year. The total exceeded the previous record set in 2005 of 1,276,359. Gate pricing was $10 adults, $5 children 5-13 and seniors 55+. Children under 5 were free.
Kristi Walsh, Marketing Director for the fair, said the event has offered more admission discounts in the last two years than ever before. “We have found that by giving people lots of options, they can plan their trips to the Fair ahead of time and can ensure that their visits fit their budget. Also, when fuel prices are high, people are less apt to drive to farther to entertainment venues - we are very centrally located in Phoenix, so families really look to the Fair because we are close and affordable,” she said.
Some of the promotions included the opening day Dos Equis Kool 2 for $2 Day where admission was only $1 per person until 7pm, CBS 5 Before 5 Presented by SRP where guests received $5 admission at the gates before 5:00pm on Fridays and Arizona Lottery Windfall Willie Wednesdays, which featured $2 off adult admission at the gates on Wednesdays with a non-winning "Wheel of Fortune" ticket.
Gretchen Wilson and Steve Miller led the way in concert ticket sales. The Qwest concert series lineup was very successful in 2006. All general seating was free with admission. The concert lineup and reserved seating prices were as follows:
Qwest Concert Series
Sat. 10/14 - Foo Fighters - $20.00 - 7:00pm
Sun. 10/15 - Brooks & Dunn - $30.00 - 7:00pm
Tues. 10/17 - Jeff Foxworthy - $20.00 - 7:00pm
Sat. 10/21 - Gretchen Wilson - $30.00 - 7:00pm
Sun. 10/22 - Latin Kings of Comedy - $15.00 - 5:00pm
Thur. 10/26 - Alan Jackson - $30.00 - 7:00pm
Sat. 10/28 - Big & Rich - $20.00 - 7:00pm
Sun. 10/29 - Big & Rich - $20.00 - 7:00pm
Wed. 11/1 - Pet Shop Boys - $20.00 - 7:00pm
Fri. 11/3 - Old School Jam - $15.00 - 8:00pm
Sat. 11/4 - Steve Miller Band - $30.00 - 7:00pm
The midway also had some interesting midway promotions including the 10 rides for $10 promotion on Wednesdays, the Super Cuts $25 wristband days and an advance purchase Halloween wristband promotion for $15 which had a phenomenal response.
Ray Cammack Shows (raycammackshows.com) fielded a midway with approximately 70 rides. Walsh said RCS has “raised the level of (our midway) to a new, more professional level, particularly in terms of midway appearance (all tents are the same colors, stands are clean and orderly), uniforms for their personnel, and better overall communication since RCS is our primary point of contact.” Until 1996, the Arizona State Fair had been run as an independent midway before contracting with RCS. Both RCS and the fair work together to come up with new marketing programs and promotions to improve the fair and its bottom line.
“2005 was our biggest year ever in terms of ride revenue, and we exceeded that number in 2006”, said Tony Fiori, Marketing Director for Ray Cammack Shows, adding “the fair just keeps getting better and better.” Asked about queries on the MCW message board about RCS rides for sale, Fiori said the show was looking at several new purchases for next year and were hoping to move a few of their older rides. “We know we won’t sell everything we listed, but we hope to sell one or two to help finance the new purchases”, he added.
The fair featured 100 food booths this year, and vendors were reporting brisk business. One of the highlights of the fair is Brian Bradbury’s unique food items. Each year, Bradbury comes up with unique offerings for fair guests, sometimes receiving national press coverage. This year his menu featured fried Coca Cola, deep fried Tootsie Rolls, deep fried chocolate mousse, fried twinkies and fried candy bars.
For the competitive eaters, the fair also featured two popular contests. The Marie Callender pie eating contest, and the Sky City Casino World Fry Bread Eating Championship brought national and local competitors together for food eating competitions.
Traditional fair entertainment like the eating contests, butter sculptures and puppet shows were coupled with newer attractions such as the Eepy Bird.com Soda Fountains. These fountains combined 200 liters of Diet Coke and more than 500 Mentos mints for a spectacular mint-powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. This act was featured on the Today Show, Discover Channel's Mythbusters and The Late Show with David Letterman.
By providing unique entertainment, the fair can combat the stiff competition offered during a busy month of entertainment in Phoenix. Walsh said the secret to the fair’s success was offering “true, family-friendly entertainment at an extremely affordable price; there really is something for everyone to enjoy; it is the one time of year when you can splurge on a deep-fried-something-on-a-stick; and with no major amusement park within 5 hours' drive, we can offer thrill rides to those who like the adrenaline rush. So our marketing focuses on what we can offer that other venues and entertainment options cannot.”
The Arizona State Fair is a fully self-sufficient state agency. They receive no monies from the State’s General Fund. The agency is totally dependant upon revenues generated by fair and non-fair activities. The 2007 Arizona State Fair is slated for Oct. 12 – Nov. 4, 2007. They are closed on Mondays.