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Get an overhead view of the newly renovated Grandstands at the Iowa State Fair and hear what improvements you'll see this year. Brian Powers and Michael Zamora, The Register

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Even country pop star Thomas Rhett seemed amazed at the Iowa State Fair crowd that greeted him Wednesday night at the Grandstand.

“This is the most people that’s been in this place in the entirety of this Grandstand,” he told onlookers

Not quite, Thomas. But close!

Rhett did play Wednesday night to the largest Grandstand crowd in 24 years, according to Iowa State Fair archives. A total of 15,775 fans attended the concert.

And he’s in good company, joining Elton John and the Beach Boys in the 15,000+ club.

The last act to bring nearly 16,000 to the fair? Reba McEntire, who played to 15,923 in 1994. McEntire returned to the Grandstand for a seventh time this year, playing to a crowd of 14,102.

Full review: Thomas Rhett brings his country pop charm to a sold-out Iowa State Fair crowd

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The extra capacity comes as a result of the Iowa State Fair completing a $7.5 million renovation to the Grandstand this year, adding space for more than 4,000 plaza seats to a venue that previously reached capacity at roughly 10,600.

Fair organizers would move the stage further away from the Grandstand for popular artists in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, making it easier for concerts to eclipse 15,000 attendees. Acts would also play two shows in one day, pushing daily concert totals to more than 20,000 fans.

In case you missed it: For a Grandstand crowd of 14,000, Reba McEntire is Iowa State Fair royalty

Iowa State Fair concerts continue Thursday night with Earth, Wind & Fire. Find more information at iowastatefair.org. 

UPDATED: We ranked every Iowa State Fair Grandstand lineup since 1970 from worst to best

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Grandstand recordbook

Some of the best-attended concerts, according to Iowa State Fair archives, include:

  • 1972: 26,200 for Sonny and Cher in two shows
  • 1973: 19,400 for Elton John
  • 1974: 24,700 for Chicago
  • 1975: 25,404 for the Beach Boys*
  • 1982: 23,142 for the Oak Ridge Boys in two shows
  • 1989: 15,000 for Tiffany and New Kids on the Block with Tommy Page
  • 1994: 15,923 for Reba McEntire
  • 2018: 15,775 for Thomas Rhett

*The best-attended Grandstand concert in Iowa State Fair history.

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