Despite a drop in attendance, the Colorado State Fair had a successful year. A combination of popular entertainers, delicious food, educational exhibits, and a great midway kept customers happy and entertained according to fair general manager, Sarah Cummings.
This year, the Colorado State Fair drew a crowd of 466,576. This is a 7.5% decrease from the 2015 fair; However, this number is comparable to the fair's five year attendance average. "Although attendance decreased, our paid admission was up 4% and our attendance is consistent with our 5 year average of 488,000 people" says Cummings. Regular gate price at the Colorado State Fair is $7 on the weekdays and $10 on the weekends, but the fair
provides several admission specials to help make the fair more affordable. For the first time, the Colorado State Fair implemented a seniors discount; seniors could get into the fair for $2 any day. Additionally, the fair offered a back to school promotion on the two Fridays of the fair; children got in for free. The fair also features a Magic Mega Pass; this pass is $98 and is good for unlimited rides every day of the fair. The Mega Pass was sponsored by Magic Radio in Colorado. According to Cummings, the fair's family packs are always a huge hit. Families can buy a four pack of drinks, food, and admission for $50 or a four pack of drinks, food, admission, and unlimited carnival rides for $150. Perhaps one of the most unique features of the Colorado State Fair is their sneak peak day. Customers can pay $15 and ride unlimited carnival rides on the day before the fair opens. The Colorado State Fair's admission specials contributed to their increase in paid admission from 2015 to 2016.
Six nights of the fair, there are concerts and rodeos on the main stages: the grandstand and the event center. The Colorado State Fair features four different rodeos: RPCA Ram Rodeo, Ranch Rodeo, Celebration De Los Charro, and Wrangler Champions Challenge Rodeo. The rodeos take place in the event center and always draw a big crowd; "People really look forward to the rodeos and they always draw large crowds. The fair offers ticket packages for rodeos and concerts so people have lots of options for entertainment" says Cummings. Some of the headliner entertainment at the Colorado State Fair included: Chris Janson, Huey Lewis, Lee Brice, Foreigner, and Vanilla Ice. Just like many other state fair across the country, Cummings noticed that it is more difficult to book headliner acts on the fair's entertainment budget than it has been before. "We definitely have to work a little bit harder to book entertainers who will pull large crowds but I'm happy with how we did this year" says Cummings. The Colorado State Fair works with a $600,000 entertainment budget.
In addition to main stage entertainment, the Colorado State Fair hosted many ground acts and strolling performers. A few of the most popular entertainers were the sea lion splash show, fables of the west show, laser tag, and pole vaulting exhibitions from local schools. Rare events like laser tag and pole vaulting drew big crowds and Cummings says that the fair is interested in having entertainment like that at the fair in the future.
The Colorado State Fair's midway partner was Crabtree Amusements. Crabtree brought 52 rides to the state fair including some crowd favorites: the Giant Wheel, the Power Booster, and the Pole Position. Pat Crabtree, owner of Crabtree Amusements, was very happy with their run this year; "the fair started off down, mostly due to the threat of bad weather, but we ended with a record run", he said.
The Colorado State Fair is a division of Colorado Department of Agriculture; therefore, the fair always has a strong agricultural presence. The fair always features an agricultural pavilion, which features many interactive, educational exhibits for kids and adults alike.
The pavilion featured a petting zoo, pony rides, a junior livestock sale, livestock shows, and a Milking Bessie booth. The new Milking Bessie booth allowed children to learn how to properly milk a cow and was very popular with fairgoers according to Cummings. Local 4H and FFA groups host and manage the junior livestock shows and sales. Many young people in the community are actively engaged in the 4H and FFA programs, bringing many families out to the Colorado State Fair.
Of course, the fair has plenty of delicious and unique foods available for customers. Perhaps the most popular item, which is unique to the Colorado State Fair, is Indian Fry Bread; "I had never heard of it before moving to Colorado in January but it is absolutely delicious. People travel to the fair specifically for this bread" Cummings added. Some other popular stands are Backyard BBQ, Tony's Concessions, and Pueblo Chili. Food is certainly an important part of the Colorado State Fair atmosphere; Cummings says that there was plenty of food stands for fairgoers to enjoy and the vendors were happy with the crowd turnout.
Overall, the Colorado State Fair works with an advertising and marketing budget of $515,800. This budget includes production, web-hosting, promotional signs and talent. The $465,588 advertising budget covers a media mix of print, radio, television, and social media. About 13% was spent on print, 40% on radio, 42% on television, and 5% on social media. This media mix works well for the fair and results in crowds coming from all over the state. The Colorado State Fair operates on a total budget of $1.8 million.
Although there was a drop in attendance, the Colorado State Fair certainly had a successful year. Happy vendors and fair partners and thoroughly entertained customers left the Colorado State Fair in a great place for their 2017 run.