By Christian Sullivan
INDIANAPOLIS – With dry weather and some sunny skies expected for the weekend, officials are hoping for a big turnout in this final weekend of the Indiana State Fair.
As another state fair wraps up, good weather and relatively mild temperatures are what separates this year’s event from the 2016 fair. This year, fairgoers saw sun for the majority of the fair’s duration, contributing to a consistently strong attendance throughout the two weeks.
Early risers beat the crowds at the state fair on Thursday. The Indiana State Fair runs through this Sunday, Aug 20 and officials are anticipating large crowds in the final weekend. Photo by Cameron Mattern, TheStatehouseFile.com
The start of Thursday was another matter. In the middle of the day, attendance was low as humidity was nearly 90 percent and rained threatened.
Last year’s state fair experienced heavy precipitation, causing attendance numbers to fall nearly 20 percent to a little more than 730,000 visitors, said Sharon Smith, communications manager of the Indiana State Fair.
“This year, we have had very little precipitation,” said Smith, “It has been a great weather situation for our fair.”
Smith said attendance numbers won’t be available until after the fair closes this weekend.
With decent weather in the forecast, fair officials like Smith hope attendance tops 2013’s record high of 978,000 visitors. The closing weekend of the fair will experience mid- to high-80’s and humidity above 60 percent.
“Lots of positive feedback on the weather; just happy sponsors, food vendors, and happy fairgoers,” Smith said.
Heavy attendance is expected to continue into the closing weekend of the fair. For most people, it is the last opportunity to get out of the house for the summer.
“We always expect large crowds,” Smith said.
The weekend is packed with special events starting Friday with the World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales at 9 a.m. The horses will be followed by the Habitat for Humanity closing ceremonies. The afternoon will feature monster truck madness, and to close out Friday, Kiefer Sutherland will be performing a free show starting at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s special events will feature the 33rd Annual Farm and Antique Auction at 9 a.m. The free, live music will begin at 1:30 p.m. and close with headliner The Why Store.
Wrapping up the State Fair on Sunday is a demolition derby at 4:30 p.m. and a gospel music festival featuring Anthony Brown and Kierra Sheard, beginning at 3 p.m.
“The last week is always popular, busy weekend,” said Smith, “For a lot of folks, it’s the last hoorah of the summer.”
Christian Sullivan is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.