• Kenton Tsoodle

Oklahoma State Fair brings huge economic impact

Nothing ushers in fall better than the Oklahoma State Fair. From Sept 15-25, our OKC Fairgrounds will come alive with rides, shows, competitions, exhibits, games and food. For Oklahoma City, the annual tradition is about far more than concerts, blue ribbons, funnel cake and a Ferris wheel; the fair is one of our state’s largest events and has a significant economic impact on Oklahoma City.

Approximately 900,000 attend the Oklahoma State Fair annually, about a fourth of the entire state’s population. The Oklahoma State Fair is ranked as one of the best state fairs in America due in part to its wide range of activities, from equine events and wine competitions to robotics, popular bands, Disney On Ice and, of course, the rides and games. The event attracts people from all over the country, with about 25% of all visitors coming from out of town, who spend money on tickets, food, lodging and other expenses.

Our city has been intentional about investing in and modernizing the OKC Fairgrounds to improve the facilities, infrastructure and visitor experience. The fairgrounds is one of our best economic development tools and our improvements help ensure we continue to attract events and guests year round. The fairgounds offers multiple facilities including the Bennett Event Center, a MAPS 3 project that opened in 2017, trade show buildings, indoor/outdoor riding arenas, outdoor space, exercise pens, show office/meeting space and nine barns offering more than 3,200 stalls. The Jim Norick Arena, opened in 1965, will soon be replaced by the MAPS 4 Fairgrounds Coliseum, with construction expected to begin after the State Fair concludes. The Norick Arena will remain open during construction of the new coliseum.

The original MAPS program funded improvements such as a new livestock show facility, new horse barns and renovations and improvements of the arena and several exhibition buildings.

Today the OKC Fairgrounds hosts approximately 180 events annually including the OKC Home & Garden Show, OKC Gun Show, OKC Boat Show, bridal shows, antiques and craft fairs, numerous sport and entertainment events and championship livestock and horse shows, including the National Reining Horse Association’s two major shows. These many events combined attract more than 2.3 million people from all over the globe to see, experience and spend their dollars in Oklahoma City.

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