Exclusive: PNE day-by-day attendance revealed

The Pacific National Exhibition’s 2013 Fair — its 103rd to date — was not marred by weather, but instead power outages at Hastings Park on the middle Saturday and the last Thursday. In fact, those were two of the worst days for attendance at the Aug. 17-Sept. 2 Fair, according to statistics that are  published below for the first time.

PNE - Pacific National ExhibitionWhat you already knew: The grand total over 15 days was 712,049, a decrease from the 763,689 a year earlier (when the fair was 17 days long) and far short of the 800,000 goal set by organizers. (By comparison, the centennial fair in 2010 drew 937,485.) PNE vice-president of finance Roger Gil told me gate revenue has not been reconciled, but will be reported to the board of directors for its next meeting. (PNE board meetings are held behind closed doors, despite it being a public body.)

What you didn’t know: A power outage delayed the opening of gates on Aug. 24 so the attendance for the middle Saturday of the Fair — traditionally one of the biggest days — was a disappointing 48,874. Another power outage happened in the evening on Aug. 29. The day’s weather was mixed — partly cloudy, sometimes rainy — but only 26,363 came through the turnstiles. That was the worst-attended day of the entire Fair. Organizers were hoping for more because Aug. 29 was the day Vancity credit union debit and credit cardholders were admitted for $5 each.

The best-attended day was the third day — Tues. Aug. 20 — with 76,902 fairgoers. Why was that? Well, Port Metro Vancouver sponsored free admission to all comers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There was also a free two-hour promotion on Aug. 27, to make-good for the Aug. 24 power outage. That Tuesday’s total  was 64,580.

Tickets and parking at the 2013 Fair were both cut from $20 to $16 each and kids under 13 were free. The touring Chinggis Khan exhibition, the only brand, new marquee attraction at the Fair, was an extra $3. There was no price break at the gates during the middle weekend of the civic fair, which was in competition with the free admission, civic-sponsored 125th anniversary of Stanley Park. The PNE drew 48,874 on Aug. 24 and 53,048 on Aug. 25. It is not known how much the free festival at Stanley Park impacted the PNE’s revenues, but it certainly was not a business-wise move by the Vision Vancouver-dominated city council. The true anniversary of Stanley Park could have been observed on Sept. 27, the date it was opened in 1888.

The PNE fairgrounds were closed on Aug. 19 and 26 to cut costs.

Next year’s fair runs Aug. 16-Sept. 1, 2014.

Day Date Attendance
Saturday August 17, 2013 29,976
Sunday August 18, 2013 31,129
Monday August 19, 2013 0
Tuesday August 20, 2013 76,902
Wednesday August 21, 2013 36,039
Thursday August 22, 2013 36,594
Friday August 23, 2013 45,547
Saturday August 24, 2013 48,874
Sunday August 25, 2013 53,048
Monday August 26, 2013 0
Tuesday August 27, 2013 64,580
Wednesday August 28, 2013 33,499
Thursday August 29, 2013 26,363
Friday August 30, 2013 41,126
Saturday August 31, 2013 66,222
Sunday September 1, 2013 67,588
Monday September 2, 2013 54,562
                                            TOTAL    712,049

What do you love or hate about Vancouver’s annual PNE Fair? Did you go to the 2013 Fair? Leave your comments below or email me here.

News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.

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