Ohio State Fair attendance dips to 8-year low

Fatal malfunction marred fair's opening day
Ohio State Fair attendance dips to 8-year low
Posted at 2:54 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 14:54:40-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fewer people went to the Ohio State Fair this year than any time since at least 2010.

Death and injury loomed large over the fair this year, after a fatal ride malfunction. Fair general manager Virgil Strickler said some cool, rainy weather might also be part of the reason fewer people attended.

"The last several years have seen attendance figures grow almost annually, but total attendance does fluctuate from year to year based on a number of factors," Strickler said in a news release Tuesday.

This year's attendance was 801,031, a 13 percent drop from last year. Nearly 1 million people went to the fair in 2015.

State Fair attendance since 2010

  • 2017: 801,031
  • 2016: 921,214
  • 2015: 982,305
  • 2014: 916,724
  • 2013: 903,824
  • 2012: 840,306
  • 2011: 833,304
  • 2010: 812,237

The fair was open July 26 to Aug. 6 this year. That first day, 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell was killed and seven others were injured on the Fire Ball, a winning and spinning ride. The manufacturer, Netherlands-based KMG, said Sunday excessive corrosion was found on the inside of the gondola arm, dangerously reducing its thickness. The arm broke off mid-swing, throwing riders through the air.

KMG asked all owners of similar rides to shut them down pending an investigation. The ride at the Ohio State Fair was 18 years old, the company said.

Gov. John Kasich ordered all State Fair rides closed for additional inspections. Rides in the midway reopened July 30.

Jarrell's family is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. He was a rising senior at Franklin Heights High School and had enlisted in the Marine Corps just a few days before his death. The crash also left his girlfriend, University of Cincinnati student Keziah Lewis, hospitalized in Columbus.