Strong crowds reported as fair winds downby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
Monday was the final day of the Minnesota State Fair, and organizers say the 12-day event has drawn strong crowds.
On Sunday, nearly 211,000 people visited the fairgrounds.
"If you compare last year's attendance numbers at this time with this year's attendance numbers at this time, we're up about 20,400 attendees over last year," said Brienna Schuette, a spokeswoman for the fair. "So attendance numbers are looking really good. I can't say if we're on track to break a record at this point."
Schuttee said Sunday that the attendance record was set in 2009, when 1.9 million people visited the State Fair.
Reported cases of swine flu linked to the fair have not affected attendance, she said.
She added that concerns about contagious strains of influenza were a focus for certain fair visitors.
"I think it impacted the fair in that folks that were in high-risk groups did not enter into the swine barn," Schuette said. "But the fair worked really closely with the Minnesota Department of Health leading up to and all the way through this year's fair to make sure that we had hand washing stations available and educational signage for folks about how to prevent the spread of illness."
Three people had shown pigs or spent time in the swine barn before they became sick.
Schuette said weather is one of the biggest factors for driving strong attendance numbers.
"We've had some really warm days -- we had rain on the first weekend -- but all in all, it's been a wonderful fair attendance-wise," she said, "and I think people were really excited to come out and and see all of the new attractions and exhibits and try all of the new foods that we had to offer for this year."
Final attendance numbers will be released on Tuesday.