Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Attendance for the 2021 New Mexico State Fair was down from the last fair – way down.
State Fair General Manager Dan Mourning said Friday that 275,467 people attended the nine-day event from Sept. 9-19, a 41.6% decrease from the 2019 fair, which drew 472,415 visitors.
The fair is still paying out and receiving money, so officials won’t know until at least December if revenue is down, and, if so, by how much, Mourning said. However, with decreased attendance, it’s likely that “we wouldn’t make as much money as we did in years past.”
The 2019 State Fair generated more than $5 million, Mourning said.
The fair was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 public health concerns, and it was coronavirus public safety mandates that almost certainly affected turnout this year. People were required to show a COVID vaccination card in order to enter, and once on the grounds they had to wear a mask in all indoor spaces. The restrictions led to the fair’s cancelation of the popular and well attended New Mexico Youth Livestock Expo after most of the parents of the youth exhibitors said they would not attend.
Mourning said 425 exhibitors, many part of 4-H and FFA programs, were originally scheduled to participate, but with the announcement of the mandates, only about 20 exhibitors indicated they would remain.
“We couldn’t do it with just 20 people,” Mourning said. “That’s not putting on a show. It just would not have worked.” Instead, the youth exhibitors participated in a show in Roswell, set up on private property where people were not required to present a vaccination card.
Despite the drop in attendance and the expected drop in revenue, the fair was successful by other measures, he said.
“I don’t think everybody realizes that the state opened up July 1, so we had to plan a fair in two months, which is an extraordinarily massive undertaking,” Mourning said. “What I can tell you is that people who did come to the fair this year had an amazing experience. They were back out among their neighbors and in a safe environment.”