My family and I attended the North Carolina State Fair on Tuesday (weather was beautiful), and noticed two differences from previous years:

1. Everything was more expensive -- getting in, riding the rides, and especially the food.
2. It was easier to get around, because it wasn't so crowded. We didn't have to wait at any of the kiddie rides -- we were able to pretty much walk up and ride.

We expect the higher cost; the prices hike up every year. But we were surprised with the small crowds. That is, we were pleasantly surprised, because we were able to accomplish our state fair rituals in less time.

How small were the crowds? The State Fair folks post attendance numbers on their web site, so if you like big orange tables you can read the numbers there.

I like pictures, so I brought the data into SAS (using SAS Enterprise Guide) and created this chart. I used DATA step for the simple calculations and SGPLOT for the picture.

(Updated this post on 27Oct with final attendance numbers.)
Here is the SAS program that I used. If you run it, you might notice that the "Thu" column has missing values for all years except 2008. This year the fair opened on Thursday instead of Friday, thus 2008 has an extra day of numbers.

```/** NC State Fair Attendance data through 26Oct2008 **/ /** source http://www.ncstatefair.org **/ DATA WORK.SF2008; INFILE DATALINES DSD; INPUT Year Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu2 Fri2 Sat2 Sun2; upper = max(Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu2, Fri2, Sat2, Sun2); lower = min(Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu2, Fri2, Sat2, Sun2); average = mean(Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu2, Fri2, Sat2, Sun2); DATALINES4; 1986,,52175,112706,80606,53031,49670,58075,53576,71363,70293,37281 1987,,64877,107464,86873,58392,67388,49331,48230,59881,119531,43038 1988,,46249,114899,93392,52670,49437,68288,56214,31402,113854,58584 1989,,50330,115510,86635,53715,38119,52247,40096,65103,98122,54061 1990,,60074,85446,71633,47264,51361,109077,33997,75353,114977,56791 1991,,53869,110920,67441,41890,51594,89856,55666,73578,112582,53277 1992,,46646,100116,70281,39974,47703,62831,54709,88799,118006,55606 1993,,73448,83573,58207,45768,48377,58633,45781,69094,119448,62861 1994,,15546,80027,89212,86798,60788,47894,34876,72736,131604,58802 1995,,42479,69279,89237,43358,56257,58686,93179,47796,130092,68940 1996,,34455,110574,89309,54391,63995,43012,86285,74508,131287,71613 1997,,44106,54500,28736,56008,65099,82675,57399,77299,136939,31379 1998,,57948,110087,94660,53131,61238,55598,79440,72417,122276,72561 1999,,49812,104352,19762,55650,57779,26276,89598,87812,136832,79574 2000,,53331,107971,94959,69580,60275,58343,96904,86075,137513,81773 2001,,47940,77747,46540,51921,54116,57330,84975,84538,113450,76620 2002,,54036,86533,80685,34563,53226,73763,67634,46876,118905,80756 2003,,61364,115016,97655,54579,65923,64152,96614,78855,129589,70208 2004,,61289,118640,95043,60296,61288,57718,91556,88822,119461,82206 2005,,52201,103512,90153,52983,59945,61306,92233,81722,111634,90241 2006,,52527,94963,91768,55989,30840,65976,103323,81734,145461,63375 2007,,57798,102325,93473,63032,69817,75746,88801,63231,145955,98433 2008,35215,42666,87457,85495,54532,71199,67028,80094,63310,76926,101775 ;;;; RUN; title "NC State Fair attendance variation 2008"; ods graphics /width=350px height=600px; proc sgplot data=sf2008 ; format upper comma10. lower comma10.; xaxis label="Days of extreme attendance"; yaxis display=(nolabel); hbar year / response = upper fillattrs=graphdata1 legendlabel = "Highest daily attendance"; hbar year / response = lower barwidth=.5 fillattrs=graphdata2 transparency=.25 legendlabel = "Lowest daily attendance"; dot year / response = average legendlabel="Average daily attendance"; keylegend / across=1; run;```

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