State Fair had lowest attendance in over 20 years, but more paid to attend

The New York State Fair had its lowest total attendance in more than 20 years, but officials say that's because they cut back on the number of free tickets they give out.

More than 70,000 people were at the fairgrounds in suburban Syracuse on Monday, pushing total attendance to more than 845,000 for the fair's 12-day run. That's down by nearly 72,000 from last year and it's the lowest total attendance since 1991.

Director Dan O'Hara says that attendance figures in past years had included tens of thousands of people who took free tickets but didn't actually attend the fair. O'Hara says the number of people who paid the fair's $10 admission fee increased this year.

"What we're finding through day 11 is that paid attendance is actually up. So when you measure success, you have to generate the revenue to support the operation. And the question would be in simplistic terms, I would rather have 900,000 people and make money, than a million people and lose money," O'Hara told CNY Central.

Ticket revenues from the fair's midway are expected to surpass last year's record of $2.4 million.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)