Are we fair-weather fans?

When the Clark County Fair experiences a jump or decline in attendance, officials typically point to the weather as one of the main factors, but I’ve often wondered are we really fair-weather fans?

The answer is yes, but after looking at attendance figures and average daily temperatures for the past 10 years (from the National Climatic Data Center) I’d argue that hot weather seems to have more of an effect than cooler weather.

Looking at the past 10 years of attendance figures, I’d say we like the temperature to be in the low 80s and about half the time Mother Nature delivers. The median daily temperature for the past 10 fairs is 82.2 (this year’s average daily high). The tipping point, when we start to wilt, appears to be about 87 degrees. That’s about how hot it was on average last year and in 2004, the two years with the lowest attendance by far in the past decade. If it gets that hot,¬†we stay home or find cooler ways to spend a sunny day in August than letting the sweat pour from our brows while we watch the monster trucks like I did with my family on the last day of the fair in 2012 (for the record, the mercury hit 94 that day).

Chart: Fair weather fans?Description: A look at the attendance figures for the Clark County Fair and the average daily high temperatures.Tags: Author: John Hillcharts powered by iCharts

Ok, so we don’t like heat. Big deal, you say. What happens if the mercury dips 5 degrees? It turns out that may contribute to a decline in attendance but not nearly as much as the heat. During years when the average high dipped to about 75 degrees, attendance did drop but only by 20,000 to 30,000 versus the 40,000 to 50,000 one might see for a heat wave. The only exception appears to be 2007 when the average daily high was a mere 74.3 and still 268,226 people went to the fair, about 10,000 more than the median attendance of 253,345 for the fair the past 10 years. Interestingly, the average high for 2010 was 74.9 and attendance dipped down to 243,698 but that also was the wettest (if you can call it that) fair this past decade with a whopping .67 inches of rain.

This all has me wondering where the tipping point is on the lower end of the thermometer. At what point would attendance decline as much as it does when it averages 87? Any guesses?


John Hill

John Hill

John is the web and photo editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

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