Illinois State Fair manager: Past attendance data inflated - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois State Fair manager: Past attendance data inflated

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - The new manager of the Illinois State Fair says he believes the decrease in attendance this year was caused by inflated numbers in previous years.

First-year fair manager Patrick Buchen tells The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/1EmDaKB ) that he doesn't necessarily think the numbers were "cheated" in the past. But he says the Illinois State Fair has seen between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors annually for at least the past decade.

On Tuesday, Buchen's office released attendance figures for this year's 11-day fair. Those figures showed over 411,500 people visited the fair from Aug. 13-23, more than 50 percent less than last year's estimate of around 844,600 visitors.

Buchen's predecessor says she and her staff used a formula that was in place before she was named state fair manager in January 2005.

Buchen said he’s not worried about seeing low numbers at the Du Quoin State Fair.

He mentioned with this state fair, it has a very large economic impact.

"The fair here is a much greater impact to the area than maybe what the Illinois State Fair is to their area," Buchen said. "While it's very important to the economic in Springfield, I think it's more so in Du Quoin, in this area, because they don't have some of the commerce that mid-state has or larger cities has."

He says while numbers are important, it doesn’t define how successful a fair is.

“Numbers are what they are," Buchen said. "The fair is what it is and as long as we can send people out and they’ve had a great experience I think that’s the real value of success.”

About 330,000 people attended the Du Quoin State Fair last year, which was down from the previous year due to what officials say was because of horrific hot temperatures.

The assistant manager says while numbers are a concern this year – he is sure that the fair has everything it needs to be successful.

“Our job is to put up the best product we can, to put out the best fair that we can and that fair is not for us," assistant fair manager Norm Hill said. "It’s for the citizens. And that’s what we’ve done and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

In 2013, about 365,000 people showed up to the event.

The Du Quoin State Fair begins Friday morning at 10 a.m. and runs until Monday, September 7.

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Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story, along with information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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