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Celebration attendance shows drop

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Attendance at this year's Celebration continued its downward trend, mirroring other recreational sporting events, with paid attendance at 168,481, down from 176,732 in 2010.

"Although paid attendance was down 4.5 percent, a lot of people felt like the actual attendance at the Celebration was up," said Dr. Doyle Meadows, explaining "more people were in the stands," using tickets they purchased in advance.

Paid attendance for Saturday night alone was 19,126 this year, down 2,450 from two years ago.

Entry numbers -- the number of horses presented during the 11-day event -- were also down.

"A total of 2,198 entries came into the ring," said Margaret Eakin, Entry Office Manager.

In 2009, paid attendance was 195,299 with 21,576 coming out for Saturday night. More than 215,000 attended the Celebration in 2008.

In 2008, the paid attendance was also large, with 215,096 tickets being sold for the ten nights of competition.

The Celebration is not alone; other recreation sporting events and recreational activities have seen a decline in numbers in recent years. Meadows said the Celebration's decline in attendance is significantly less than what other events are experiencing.

"In view of other sporting events or recreational activities, being down only 4.5 percent is a positive," Meadows said. "Most sports or recreational venues are experiencing 20-40 percent revenue and attendance decline."

Meadows and his team are looking for ways to increase attendance next year and continue to draw more of the community back to the show.

"Our key to future success has to be the community and I think we saw a turnaround in community awareness this year," he said. "Hopefully, this awareness and mood will carry over to increase attendance and box seat purchases at the 2012 Celebration."

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