GOSHEN — Wednesday, July 24, was a record day at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, with 46,718 people passing through the gates, according to Mary Nisley, the fair board member who tracks attendance.
For a Wednesday, “it was an overall record,” Nisley said. According to numbers from the fair office, it’s in the top three days ever, with two days in 2003 slightly eclipsing Wednesday’s total.
Between the weather, kids day and the Hunter Hayes concert, it beat out Monday’s attendance, which was big due to good weather and the Florida Georgia Line concert.
Thursday’s numbers aren’t yet available, but the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Tractor and Truck Pull typically draws some of the largest crowds of the fair, and Thursday’s event had the stands packed.
After a languid start due to high heat and humidity on Friday, July 19, attendance picked up Saturday, the night of the Creedence Clearwater Revisited concert.
Tuesday, the day Vince Gill performed, saw more than 21,000 people on the grounds, but that’s less than half of Wednesday’s attendance.
Today, Thursday, July 25, promises to be another major day for fair attendance. The tractor and truck pull draws large crowds at the grandstands, and another mild day will help draw people. Thursday attendance is the main benchmark for estimates of Sunday attendance for the fair, which isn’t tracked because Sunday is free-admission day.
Not counting Sunday, fair attendance is already above 145,000.
“Weather makes the fair, weather and the economy,” said Dennis Sharkey, a past president of the fair board.
Tim Yoder, the fair board member who oversees food concessions, said the slow start dug a hole but sales have been strong for vendors since then.
Blake Huston, unit manager for North American Midway Entertainment, the midway company, said Thursday that, “after yesterday, we’re up for the fair just a little bit over last year,” making up for the slow start.
The Ferris wheel is again the most popular ride, followed by the Crazy Mouse spinning roller coaster, the Freak Out and, just behind it, this year’s larger, 100-foot-tall Vertigo.
“They’ve been pretty solid so far,” Huston said.