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2014 Top 50 Fairs & Carnival Ranking Released


By Ron Weber, Editor

Photo courtesy of

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The Top 50 US fairs drew 44,267,063 people in 2014, up almost 1% from 2013.  The Texas State Fair, #1 on the list once again, led the way with an MCW estimated 2,855,949, up 10% from 2013 under the leadership of new President Mitchell Glieber.  The rest of the top 5 also remained the same with the Houston Livestock Show and Exhibition at #2, the Minnesota State Fair in a record breaking year at #3, the San Antonio Livestock Show and Exhibition at #4 and the Eastern States Exposition at #5 with a second consecutive record breaking year and attendance of  1,498,605.

Other record years in the Top 50 include the Erie County Fair, entering the top 10 for the first time, the Wisconsin State Fair, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds under manager Rick Frenette, the Ohio State Fair and the Big Photo By Fresno Fair, clocking in at 666,621.

The biggest movers on the list were the Calgary Stampede, increasing attendance by 25.1%, its second highest numbers ever.  The Stampede was hurt last year by the after affects of a flood but the weather was just about perfect in 2014.  The Alameda County Fair was up 21.5% in manager Jerome Hoban's first full year. The New Mexico State Fair was up 18% with new pricing and promotions and the New York State Fair gained 13.4% under acting manager Troy Waffner.  The NYSF set two all-time single day records in the same year and featured Wade Shows on the midway, the first carnival change in over 70 years.

Several fairs had very tough years and saw steep declines in attendance.  The Wilson County Fair shed 17.8% of its attendance, losing over 54,000 people to a stormy Sunday alone.  The Kentucky State Fair and LA County Fair both fell by 16.2%.  It was a 30-year low for the Bluegrass State event with high heat and rain. The LA County Fair also had high daytime temperatures to start, rebounding with an all-time record last Thursday and an increase in per capita spending.  The Florida State Fair fell to the last spot on the list, hampered by bad weather and negative publicity from unruly crowds on Kid's Day, down 13.7%.  The fair has an action plan for kid's day and a new midway coordinator in Wade Shows and they are hoping for a big rebound in 2015.   The York Fair was down 11.8% and the Dutchess County Fair fell to #49 on the list, down 11.6%.  Both events were affected by weather including two rainy Saturdays in York.

On the carnival side, the top four carnivals remained the same with North American Midway Entertainment retaining the top spot, playing 10 of the Top 50 Fairs with attendance of 8,996,851.  Ray Cammack Shows was second once again with 4 events with a combined attendance of 6,174,981, down slightly from 2013.  Wade Shows was the biggest mover in terms of attendance, gaining about 1,000,000 from 2013 on the strength of adding the New York State Fair.  Despite the increase, they remained in the #3 spot.  Butler Amusements was again #4, playing 4 events; California State Fair, Alameda County Fair, Kern County Fair and Big Fresno Fair.  Attendance at these events did increase by a couple of hundred thousand and the show had a record year at the Alameda County Fair.

Belle City Amusements moved into the #5 spot with the Greater Jacksonville Fair coming back on the Top 50 list in 2014.  The show added about 400,000 in attendance as a result.  

In the sixth spot Murphy Brothers Expositions leaped above Amusements of America riding on the strength of a strong Tulsa State Fair and New Mexico State Fair.  Amusements of America was in the 7th spot with two events, the Ohio State Fair which had a record year and the Wilson County Fair which had a tough weather year.

Powers' Great American and Reithoffer Shows were #8 and 9 respectively, both moving up two spots from #10 and 11, respectively, in 2013.  

Strates Shows, due to the loss of the New York State Fair to Wade Shows, dropped to #10.  Its Top 50 event, the Erie County Fair, had a record year and the show just announced the signing of the Champlain Valley Fair and Exhibition as a new Labor Day event.  The other big drop, also 5 places, was Deggeller Attractions, moving from #9 to #14.  The fall was due to the Maryland State Fair not making the Top 50 as it did in 2013.  

Talley Amusements at #11, Funtastic Shows at #12, Crabtree Amusements at #13, West Coast Amusements at #15, Fiesta Shows at #16 and Davis Enterprises at #17 all held steady with attendance and events.  Talley, Funtastic and Crabtree moved ahead one place due to Deggeller's drop and West Coast, Fiesta and Davis remained in the same places as 2013.

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