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The sun sets on another edition of the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo. David Samson

Attendance dips slightly at Red River Valley Fair

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The rain held off, but so did the concert crowds at the Red River Valley Fair this year.

RRVF Assistant Manager Jodi Buresh said she is waiting on final numbers, but it appears overall attendance at this year’s regional fair in West Fargo is down from last year.

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“Last year, we were at about 117,000,” she said. “But that’s mainly because of The Band Perry.”

The Band Perry drew in a record crowd of about 21,000 concertgoers at its headlining performance at the fair grandstand on Saturday night. Their concert was precluded by country soloist Hunter Hayes, who brought in 14,000.

This year’s Saturday night headliners, rock band Five Finger Death Punch, drew 13,500 while competing with Sir Paul McCartney’s first visit to North Dakota.

Kellie Pickler’s Thursday night concert drew about 3,900 despite its 30-minute delay due to rain.

“I know if it hadn’t rained that night, we would have a lot more,” Buresh said.

Overall, grandstand attendance was estimated at 45,400 compared to 63,000 in 2013 and 51,000 in 2012.

On Tuesday, country newcomer Chase Rice brought in a crowd of 4,000. The always popular 80s cover band, Hairball, drew 6,500.

Billy Currington set this year’s record attendance with 14,000 watching him croon on Friday night.

The pop band Karmin drew in 3,500.

The RRVF upped its concert budget from about $225,000 last year to $300,000 this year to retain talent at its grandstand. Buresh said it is unlikely the budget for the 2015 fair will increase again without a different way to raise revenue for the shows. The grandstand shows are free with paid gate admissions.

Buresh said Murphy Brothers Carnival reported equal interest to last year in the more than 50 rides.

While attendance was slightly lower, the RRVF’s newly launched app for smartphones proved successful with more than 1,138 unique users of the app.

The new app gave fairgoers weather and concert updates and offered a scavenger hunt for prizes.

This year’s fair was also the first time an electronic ticketing process was used, but glitches in the system have caused the scanned tickets to be unreliable, Buresh said.

She said the RRVF will be considering how to better count attendance in 2015.

“Overall, we had a lot of good comments,” Buresh said. “We had few complaints, mainly just questions.”

The 2015 Red River Valley Fair dates have been scheduled for July 9-14.

For more information about the fair, visit www.redrivervalleyfair.com.

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