Raleigh, N.C. — Attendance at the North Carolina State Fair this year is down slightly from last year's record-setting event when more than 1 million people crowded the fairgrounds over the 11-day run, State Fair officials said Thursday.
More than 500,000 people passed through gates at the fair as of Tuesday putting it about 29,000 people behind last year at this time, according to totals released Thursday.
The slight dip isn't worrying organizers, who say this year's attendance is still above average.
"Last year was absolutely amazing, attendance-wise. We set nine daily attendance records last year, which was unprecedented. The odds of that happening in back-to-back years are pretty low," fair spokesman Brian Long said.
Tammy Lack, who has been working at the Sunrise United Methodist booth since it opened at the fair 11 years ago, said sales have been mixed.
"This year, we've had two days that were higher than last year, and three days that were lower than last year," Lack said.
Thursday was also looking up for Sunrise, a day after rain dampened attendance at the fair, Lack said.
State Fair attendance surged to 877,939 people in 2009, a year after the fair added a preview day to the schedule. It was the second-highest attendance in the last decade.
Fair total attendance since 2001:
- 2001: 695,177
- 2002: 696,977
- 2003: 833,955
- 2004: 836,319
- 2005: 795,930
- 2006: 785,956
- 2007: 858,611
- 2008: 765,067
- 2009: 877,939
- 2010: 1,091,887