Eastern Idaho State Fair celebrates another record-breaking year

Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal  A horse pull on Wednesday drew a huge crowd during the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot. The fair concluded Saturday. Find a photo gallery at idahostatejournal.com.

Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal
A horse pull on Wednesday drew a huge crowd during the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot. The fair concluded Saturday. Find a photo gallery at idahostatejournal.com.

By Kendra Evensen, kevensen@journalnet.com 

BLACKFOOT — Thanks to an extra day, sunny skies and big-name entertainment, the 2017 Eastern Idaho State Fair shattered attendance records.

The event held in Blackfoot this month drew more than 239,000 people, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by more than 8,000. Fair officials say some attendance records for individual days were also broken. Not a bad way to celebrate the fair’s 115th anniversary.

“Combine the beautiful weather we had all week with the dedication of thousands of people, the most amazing grandstand shows ever and 2017 was an incredibly successful year,” Fair Manager Brandon Bird said in a news release. “I hope everyone from the exhibitors to concessionaires, sponsors to employees and especially those who attended this year’s event were able to see why ‘Bigger is Better.’ We are so grateful to be able to continue this 115-year tradition in this community.”

The fair added a ninth day this year, hence the theme, “Bigger is Better.”

And Bird said they were able to enjoy plenty of sunny weather during the event. If anything, it was almost too warm on some days.

“We’re not used to having 90-degree temperatures during the week of the fair,” Bird said, adding that that didn’t seem to deter fairgoers.

The Eastern Idaho State Fair also brought in some big names this year, including comedians Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy, and, for the rock fans, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts — all of whom drew large crowds, Bird said.

In addition, the September Slam Demolition Derby once again sold out and the Gem State Classic Pro Rodeo saw an all-time high in attendance, Bird said.

“We had our highest grossing year for grandstand nighttime entertainment,” he said.

Bird noted that free daytime acts, including Dan Meyer, a sword swallower, and Lady Houdini, dubbed an escapeologist, also proved popular.

Aside from a minor fire at a concession booth — the flames were quickly extinguished and the vendor was able to stay open for business — things seemed to go smoothly.

“It was a fantastic year,” Bird said.

While the fair is over, Bird said they will start preparing soon for the 2018 event, which will take place Aug. 31-Sept. 8. He encourages people to submit suggestions for next year through the Eastern Idaho State Fair’s website, funatthefair.com, or its Facebook page.