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Where Does Minnesota State Fair Revenue Go?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This year, a full-price ticket to the Minnesota State Fair will cost $15. With all the discounts, though, the average fair-goer generally pays $12 per ticket.

With more than two million people attending the Great Minnesota Get-Together each year, that equals a lot of money. So, where does that money go? Good Question.

"Our operating expenses last year were just under $18 a head," Jerry Hammer said. "We're spending more than your ticket price."

In 2018, the fair brought in $57.3 million. Forty percent of that total ($23 million) was from the gate and parking. Another 15% ($8.8 million) came from attractions and the Midway, which the fair operates. Sales account for 20% ($11.5 million), including the 15% commission the fair takes from all the food sold. The Grandstand accounts for 8% and non-fair events for 6% of expenses. The rest – 15% – is labeled other.

In total, the fair's 2018 income was $57.3 million – so where did that money go? It's everything from the park-and-ride buses to public safety to sanitation to the Blue Ribbon awards.

"It adds up in a hurry," Hammer said. "It's all part of what it takes to put on an event like this one."

The biggest 2018 fair expense is plant operations (14%), which is the work it takes to just keep the 322-acre property running. That's followed by entertainment (13%), administration (12%), guest services like public safety and sanitation (11%), Midway operators (10%), depreciation (7%), maintenance (7%), marketing (4%), non-fair events (4%), premiums (3%) and other (15%). In total, the 2018 fair expenses totaled $51.8M.

That extra $5.5 million left over goes toward capital improvements, according to Hammer. He says that fund is what makes the 2014 new West End Market and 2019 upgrades to the North End possible.

"The better the fair does, the better the fair will do," Hammer said.

Last year, the fair estimated it has a $300 million economic impact in the Twin Cities. That's compared to the estimated $400 million from the Super Bowl and $150 million from the Final Four.

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