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State Fair attendance down

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Ariana Romp, left, and other members of the dance troupe, Los Ninos de Santa Fe y Compania Villa Hispana, perform on stage at New Mexico State Fair earlier this year. (JIM THOMPSON/JOURNAL)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Combined paid and unpaid attendance at this year’s New Mexico State Fair was 462,104, a decrease of 34,932 from the previous year, but still representing an increase over the five-year average of 454,057, according to numbers just released from State Fair management.

Fair General Manager Dan Mourning said last year’s attendance was 7 percent higher because there were no “rain events,” which negatively impacted at least a couple of fair days this year.

Also last year, the midway carnival had an early Labor Day weekend opening, something that didn’t happen this year, Mourning said, because the midway operator had “scheduling problems.”

Another factor that affected attendance was Central Avenue construction for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.

“People were just avoiding Central Avenue,” particularly during the first weekend of the fair, Mourning said.

The southern border of Expo New Mexico’s acreage runs along Central Avenue.

The fair, which ran from Sept. 7-17, also saw $348,000 in Junior Livestock Sale proceeds, a 15 percent increase over the prior year’s sale, and a 16 percent increase in revenue from concession and vendor rental revenues when compared with 2016.

Overall revenue totals from the State Fair are still being collected and tabulated and should be available within the next few weeks, Mourning said.

“I don’t look at this as a down year because it was highly successful and anybody who came out would agree it was one of the best fairs yet,” he said.

In fact, representatives of state fairs from five other states visited the New Mexico State Fair this year to get ideas on how to improve their own events and fairgrounds, he said.

Other interesting State Fair statistics include:

• 23,625 people used the free park-and-ride lots, including the new location at Coronado Center.

• $118,438 worth of Groupon tickets were sold online, a 54 percent increase over last year.

• 3,500 cases of Marble Brewery’s New Mexico State Fair Pale Ale were sold.

• 107,000 lemons were squeezed by vendors making lemonade.

• 20,000 turkey legs were eaten.

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Shaded from the sun on the last day of the New Mexico State Fair, Phil and Shirley Lynn of Gallup wait for their 10-year-old granddaughter to finish riding the Yoyo on the fair’s midway. (ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOURNAL)

• 14,000 slices of pie were purchased from the Asbury Café, which in turn donated $50,000 to local charities.

• 24,056 people attended the New Mexico State Fair concert/rodeo series.

• 93 percent of people who attended this year’s fair said they plan to return next year.

• About 4,500 people used Uber to attend this year’s fair, a 12 percent increase over last year.

• 850 pounds of plastic were recycled.

• 3,800 pounds of food were donated to Roadrunner Food Bank from this year’s discount admission canned food drive.

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