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Estimating Crowd Attendance, Fair, Festival or Event

Many festivals have it easy if they are paid or ticketed events. They simply count the tickets sold or add up the turnstile counter total. For the majority of the free events the task is much tougher. You can guess, as many do, but your sponsors require and the media and vendors will want to know. The more folks you have through the event, the easier it is to attract sponsors and other vendors.

1. The grid method is a tried and proven way to count the crowd, but works best for events where the crowd is sitting and watching a concert and not moving around. You take an aerial photograph and then mark off the picture in 100x100 foot squares. If sitting on the ground or in lawn chairs, there are usually a fi xed number of people in a 100x100 area. Simply count the number of folks at your event in one square area, add up your squares, and multiply to estimate your total. This method requires an airplane or helicopter, but that is a different problem, isn't it?
2. The Wal-Mart method is more accurate as it is a well-known fact that everyone that visits your town will go to Wal-Mart to buy sunscreen, chairs, coolers, etc. Enlist the help of someone to count the number of people going through the front door of the local Wal-Mart during your event. Then at some other time count the number of folks not during the festival. The larger number during the festival less the number on a regular day is exactly the number at your event. Now you may point out that 4% will go to K-mart instead, that is true, however exhaustive studies show that 4% is offset by the folks that visit Wal-Mart more than once during the event.
3. By far the most accurate way is to weigh the contents of the porta potties. This gets a little complicated due to its scientifi c nature but try to follow along. The average festival attendee, if healthy, will urinate gallon of liquid per day. The weight of one gallon of water is seven pounds per gallon. Have your toilet clean out crew weigh the empty weight of their truck. Once they clean out the toilets each night, weigh the trucks full. The average pump truck holds 600 gallons. If the truck is full and weighs, for example, 4200 pounds full of, well, you know, then each truckload full represents 1200 people. Now it gets a little trickier. You have to compensate if you sell lots of beer. Of course folks will pee more if they are drinkers, so you have to about double the amount of volume pumped or half the attendance results. Also you need to have a temperature allowance. If it is a really hot day, the normal person will sweat out a lot of moisture through their skin and not go to the toilets near as much. You should add about 30% to your attendance fi gures due to this variable. After applying the variables of beer verses no beer and the temperature compensation, there is the well known style of music factor. We have yet to fi gure out the reason, but it appears that Blues festivals in particular attract attendees that have trouble finding the porta potties and simply go behind a building or fence. If you have trouble following the extensive math, we will loan you our patented SEWER SUCKER CALCULATOR as long as NASA doesn't buy it from us first.

I trust you have by now figured out this chapter is written in jest. We thought that much of this book is too serious and you needed to grin somewhere along the way. It is also a way to test you to see if you are really reading it, if you did read this, email us at stageforrent@aol.com and let me know.