The North Dakota State Fair opened in Minot last week, bringing a large crowd of out-of-town guests that Minot hosts.
In 2022, Visit Minot tracked more than 12,000 visitors from more than 50 miles away during the State Fair, Minot’s highest visitor spike of that year. Final numbers for 2023 are not available yet.
“The State Fair is the biggest injection of dollars from an event that we see. It is the state’s largest event and we are obviously elated to hold that in Minot,” said Stephanie Schoenrock, executive director of Visit Minot.
Visit Minot tracks the amount spent on credit cards at retail businesses in Ward County and Shoenrock said that the data shows a huge spike in July due to the fair.
Amongst the businesses that are most affected are the local hotels that house the influx of travelers. Located just across from the fairgrounds is the Clarion Hotel whose location is a draw for fairgoers looking to avoid the headache of parking. Front desk worker Charles Chaboudy said the hotel saw reservations coming in as early as last year and another spike when the State Fair announced its concert lineup in January. Chaboudy said opening weekend was booked solid with minimal rooms available during the week. He said he’s seen IDs from as far away as Utah and Idaho.
Schatz Crossroads Truck Stop is another business that is greatly impacted by the State Fair. Owner Krista Marshall said during the average Saturday Schatz seats around 900 guests, but this past Saturday they seated 1,477 guests, with Sunday and Monday seeing similar numbers. Marshall said Schatz has experienced an increase in sales over the last few years and that this year has been their best since pre-COVID. Schatz gets its food shipments three times a week, Marshall said they saw so many fair guests that they nearly ran out of eggs, hashbrowns and chicken strips. The Schatz convenience store has also seen a considerable jump in traffic, with increased gas and deli sales during the fair.
“We couldn’t do it without our staff. Our staff is phenomenal. It is one hundred percent a team effort,” Marshall said. With Schatz having 24-hour food service later in the week, they’re able to serve customers from breakfast to post-concert at the end of the night, which is a draw to fairgoers.
Dakota Square Mall also sees a large influx of foot traffic during fair days. General manager Chuck Massey said the difference is noticeable. He mentioned that on hot days people retreat to the mall from the hot asphalt at the fair to cool off. With so many people traveling from smaller, rural towns, early back-to-school shopping is also on the to-do list for many mall guests while in the city. Massey said to prepare for the fair crowd he keeps his support staff up but the crowd doesn’t usually pose any issues. With the fair being a weekend getaway for many, Massey said the vacationers at the mall are in great spirits which in turn boosts employee morale and makes for a great week.
While most local retailers see a boost from the State Fair, some other local attractions see a slight slip in attendance. Jeff Bullock, director of Roosevelt Park Zoo, said when he first came on as director that staff warned him fair week was slow. He said that since he started to collect data on admissions the dip in attendance isn’t very noticeable, stating that zoo attendance is driven moreso by the weather. Bullock also said that being so close to the fair on Burdick Expressway may have individuals wanting to avoid the busy area, which could explain the “dip” in zoo attendance.
A new attraction to Minot, the Magic City Discovery Center, is taking its first stab at fair season this year. Unsure of what to expect, Executive Director Wendy Keller said the center has asked for additional volunteers. The center also employs a timed admission ticket system to avoid overcrowding and can accommodate up to 200 guests per time slot. Keller said that with a recent softball tournament in town she saw a jump in attendance, but State Fair attendance is still just a guess.
“The amount of money that we get in our county from people coming in for this event is very important to our businesses and our entire community,” Schoenrock said.
Source : Minot Daily News