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State fair attendance healthy after pandemic layoff

September 28, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — State officials are celebrating attendance at this year’s Illinois State Fair after it was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Agriculture reported Tuesday that the Springfield-based festival in August attracted 472,390. Since 2014, when the agency started formally tracking attendance, that’s second only to the 508,900 who attended in 2019.

Given the the turnstile count in 2019, State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon said “the bar was set pretty high” for attendance after a year’s layoff.

“Being able to overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic and safely bring back so many families to the fairgrounds is a great accomplishment,” Gordon said.

Final numbers are not yet available, but officials are estimating revenue at $5 million, the ninth highest in the past two decades.

The 2022 Illinois State Fair is scheduled for Aug. 11-21.