I mentioned this in passing during my review of the concert, but it bears repeating: Teen-heartthrob pop-rock band Hot Chelle Rae played the Deschutes County Fair on Aug. 3 and drew an estimated crowd of 11,400 people, breaking the all-time attendance record at the fairgrounds’ event center.
Given that the event center is, as far as I know, the largest venue in Central Oregon that holds concerts, it seems reasonable to extrapolate the above into an assumption that I think is (a) kind of shocking, and (b) fun to know, at least:
In terms of crowd size, Hot Chelle Rae played the biggest show in the history of Central Oregon two Saturdays ago.
Now, I wasn’t quite satisfied with that assumption, so I did a little bit of research and asking around to try to give it a little more context.
First, I wrote fair officials to find out how they got to that number. Fair & Expo Center Director Dan Despotopulos wrote back and said that for concerts, the building has 4,000 permanent seats and 4,500 chairs on the floor, plus standing room. Neither the VIP nor the general admission sections on the floor looked full, but that’s because everyone sitting in those sections moved up as far as they could — in VIP’s case, up against the stage; in GA’s case, up against the back of VIP. According to the fair’s marketing coordinator, Ross Rogers, officials let in extra people because they knew the folks on the floor would never return to their seats. (I can confirm that they didn’t. I spent the second half of the concert in the back row on the floor, surrounded by hundreds of empty chairs.)
For the record, the fair distributed 14,000 tickets to the show, which were free and available at area McDonald’s. To get into the concert, you had to pay fair admission and show your free ticket.
The fair uses a formula to estimate crowds that Despotopulous called “more of an art than a science” — it involves the number of people that can fit in each concrete square on the arena’s floor — but that at least gets us close to an attendance number. He also provided the top five crowds in the history of the fair’s concert series:
1. Hot Chelle Rae (2012), 11,400
2. Styx (’10), 11,200
3. REO Speedwagon (’11), 11,000
4. Joan Jett (’11), 10,600
5. (tie) Alice Cooper (’08) / Peter Frampton (’09) / Chris Young (’12), 10,200
For comparison’s sake, here are the five biggest crowds in the 10-year history of Central Oregon’s next largest venue (that I know of), the ~8,000-capacity Les Schwab Amphitheater, per a story I did earlier this year. (If this kind of stuff interests you and you haven’t seen this graphic, click right now.)
1. Jack Johnson (’05), 8,005
2. Jack Johnson (’04), 7,970
3. Pixies (’04), 6,517
4. Ben Harper and Jack Johnson (’03), 6,485
5. Willie Nelson (’03), 6,399
Almost satisfied, I also asked a few local concert promoters who’ve been in the business and in the region for years — Bret Grier of Random Presents and Cameron Clark of C3 Events — to see if they could remember anything bigger than 11,400. Neither could. If you know those guys and what they do, you know that’s pretty solid.
So now, I turn to you: On Aug. 3, did Hot Chelle Rae draw more people to a concert than any artist ever has in Central Oregon?
For all I know, 20,000 people gathered in a field in east of Redmond in 1982 to see Madonna or something. So if you can remember anything at all that might compete, please leave a comment. I’d love to know about it!