Indiana State Fair vendors say they’re seeing lower attendance this year

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The rain is putting a damper on attendance at the Indiana State Fair. According to vendors, they are seeing less foot traffic than in years past.

The decrease makes an impact on groups like the Washington Township Lions Club, which sells corn each year. Club president Dennis Henninger said it is one of their biggest fundraisers for the year.

"Last year we had the line that went around our booth and into the street just waiting for the corn," Henninger said.

This year, the view from outside the booth is different. Club members are used to going through 60 bags of corn on "$2 Tuesday" when food prices are discounted. Henninger said he thinks they will be lucky if they go through 40 bags.

"This year, we are down at least 20 percent compared to last year," he said.

Less money coming in means less money going out to community causes like buying dictionaries for all Washington Township third graders.

"We can't give away something we don't have," Henninger said.

Just across from the Lion's Club booth, vendorTy Hampe said he's experiencing the same problem with sales.

"This is as difficult as it's ever been," Hampe said. "We rely on the crowd."

Hampe said he blames the lower attendance on not just the weather, but also the lack of concerts inside the coliseum this year.

"Without any concerts, we all suffer," Hampe said. "That’s attendance, that’s the fair, that’s the state of Indiana."

Indiana State Fair officials say they are trying to be flexible this year as the battle Mother Nature.

"I can tell you our attendance is a little bit different than it was last year," said Cindy Hoye, executive director of the Indiana State Fair Commission. "Last year was perfect weather, this year we are challenged."

They even allowed people into the fair for free Monday evening.

"As challenges come up we shift a little bit," Hoye said. "It's a unique year for us."