Leaders of the 2012 North Dakota State Fair were determined not to focus on numbers. The 2010 Fair set the attendance bar high with, 308,641 visitors. And there was no Fair in 2011, with the grounds under more than 10 feet of Mouse River flood. But Fair Manager Renae Korslien need not have worried. A total of 310, 889 people flocked to the Fairgrounds July 20-28, to see a great concert line-up including everything from Kid Rock to Blake Shelton.
Weather, which Korslien described as “perfect” the first eight days, brewed up a massive threatening wind storm just as the grand finale, a Foreigner concert, was set to take the main stage. After Foreigner rocked out their first song, safety precautions were taken and the grandstand was cleared. The concert was postponed for approximately an hour and a half but weather cleared and Foreigner took the stage ready to wow the crowd.
Korslien praised both the concert-goers and staff, who moved visitors from the Grandstand to safe quarters under the Grandstand and the State Fair Center. The stands were cleared in 7 minutes. Foreigner also came in for its share of praise: “They each assured me they would play their full concert when the storm blew by, and they did,” the manager said.
The fireworks which traditionally end the Fair went on, too. “We are so pleased with attendance,” Korslien said, “but for us on staff, success hasn’t been measured in numbers. We are counting smiles of our visitors, the generally great safety record, the many youth, their parents and supporters who entered exhibits, and the fun that was had by folks who chose to take in our Fair.”
There were no complaints about numbers at events either: Kid Rock, 14,887; the Zac Brown Band, 14,307; Blake Shelton, 13,329; Luke Bryan, 11,967; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 6,179; Chris Young, 6,530 and Foreigner, 8,252. “Fairgoers showed they also like our other attractions,” she said, “with 3,629 at the Enduro race and 2,249 watching the IMCA and Stock Cars. NPRA Bull Riding Championships drew in 2,731 in two nights; and 2,451 attended the ranch rodeos that are growing in popularity.
The free pony and horse pulls, draft horse events, and 4-H and FFA livestock shows also drew in a large crowd. Not to mention a dozen free stages that covered everything from alligators to racing pigs to motorcycle stunts.
“We have so much to be grateful for this year,” Korslien said. “One major blessing is that we were able to put on an exciting, safe family event for people, especially those in the Mouse River Valley who have had such a tough year enduring and recovering from the flood last summer. I can’t pay enough of a tribute to our staff, especially the grounds crew who put in countless hours to make sure the North Dakota State Fairgrounds were well maintained with beautiful grass and trees. And they did all that in addition to the usual Fair duties of setting up and moving stages, keeping bathrooms and showers working and moving in over 600 vendors.
“The 2012 North Dakota State Fair has been excellent, the staff is now looking forward to begin planning the 2013 Fair which will be held July 19-27,” states Korslien.