Sophie Bolich

State Fair Tops 1 Million Attendees

Rising attendance still hasn't reached pre-pandemic levels. 2024 dates for fair announced.

By - Aug 15th, 2023 05:24 pm
Wisconsin State Fair. Photo taken August 1st, 2019 by Jeramey Jannene.

Wisconsin State Fair. Photo taken August 1st, 2019 by Jeramey Jannene.

The Wisconsin State Fair closed out its 2023 run on Sunday, bringing an end to 11 days of pig races, Ferris wheel rides and too many cream puffs to count.

Or maybe not. The Wisconsin Bakers Association reports serving 307,000 Original Cream Puffs to fairgoers this year. That means — despite the lengthy queues snaking through the cream puff pavilion — at least 736,350 attendees forwent the sweet treat.

What gives? Perhaps the remaining crowd was savory-minded, instead opting for WürstBar‘s Sporkies-winning Beer Cheese Lava Cakes, which dished out 25,285 orders of the salty snack.

Or maybe they were among the 100,000 riders on the Giant Slide and, stomach churning from the adrenaline rush, decided to forgo eating altogether.

Nevertheless, this year’s fair, presented by UScellular, showed a continuing trend of post-pandemic recovery. On Tuesday, fair officials announced a final count of 1,043,350 attendees. That’s up nearly 4% from last year’s 1,003,450 fairgoers and a whopping 19% above 2021. This year’s fair drew the highest number of attendees since the record-setting 2019 fair, which recorded 1,130,572 visitors.

“We’re blown away by the commitment our incredible fairgoers, exhibitors, vendors, and staff have that continue to make the Wisconsin State Fair a time-honored tradition,” said Shari Black, executive director and CEO of Wisconsin State Fair Park, in a statement. “Thank you to all who helped showcase our state during the best 11 days of summer.”

Fair officials announced on Tuesday that the fair will return in 2024, taking place from Thursday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 11.

Additional highlights from the 2023 fair — its 172nd year running — include the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction, which raised a record-breaking $403,150. A portion of the funds, combined with additional contributions from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction and the Blue Ribbon Dairy Products Auction, will be donated to benefit Wisconsin’s youth agriculture programs and provide scholarships.

The fair also introduced several new concepts, such as the Cirque at the Fair attraction, a free show with acts including archery demonstrations and aerial performances.

The Drinkies, a spin-off of the food-focused Sporkies, crowned its first winner this year. Old Fashioned Sipper Club earned top prize with its Ferris Mules cocktail.

The fair will come around again in 2024, but until then, stay up to date on the latest developments by following along on the Wisconsin State Fair website or its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us