July 30th, 2012
The three-day JazzFest, organized by the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society, shattered the event’s attendance record, previously set in 2005, this past weekend.
The crowd size for Thursday was estimated at 10,000 people, with Friday’s attendance peeking at 35,000 people. On Saturday there were 80,000 in attendance with an estimated crowd size of nearly 60,000 for Joe Walsh alone – a new JazzFest record.
JazzFest 2012 Saturday Crowd of over 60,000
It was really Saturday’s evening push that brought in tens of thousands of additional audience members,” said Executive Director Robert Joyce. “I’m certain that the reason for the large crowd was the fact we had such a major headlining act on Saturday night.” Beautiful weather with temperatures in the 80’s also helped to contribute to the high volume of attendees.
The total attendance for the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Festival was at 125,000 people for 2012. The previous record was 105,000 people in 2005.
Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues has relied on the expertise of Jeff Masten, who is the Chief Physicist of Aspirus Regional Cancer Center in Wausaw, WI. Originally from Sioux Falls, Masten has been on the JazzFest committee and has been estimating crowd size for the past 15 years.
“In the 15 years that I’ve been observing JazzFest crowds, in running statistical research this is the largest crowd we’ve had on a Saturday night,” Masten said.
Historically, Masten estimates that the biggest crowds fill the grounds from the main stage to the burm/beer garden/sponsor tent line at Yankton Trail Park. When the northwest and southeast quadrants of the park are filled, Masten knows a record has been hit. Before Walsh took the main stage at 10pm Saturday night, the northwest quadrant was already filled and the crowd flow continued throughout the Joe Walsh set.
In 21 years, JazzFest had never seen a headliner quite as big as Eagles front-man, Joe Walsh. This incredible performer wouldn’t have been possible without the generous contribution made by long-time JazzFest sponsor – Midcontinent Communications.
Joe Walsh Performs at JazzFest 2012. Photo by Dan Thorson Photography.
“The performance of Joe Walsh could not have been possible without the support of Midcontinent Communications—they stepped forward to help us bring in a world class act and provide it to the community and region free of charge.” Robert Joyce, Executive Director.
Midcontinent Communications, one of JazzFest’s most generous sponsors, is the upper Midwest’s leading providers in wideband internet, video, phone and cable. They provide services for over 275,000 residential and business customers in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Joe Walsh is a hall of fame inductee, front man for the Eagles and former member of The James Gang. Joseph Fidler Walsh has been performing, producing and writing since 1968. Walsh made a name for himself as a solo artist with the hit “Rocky Mountain Way” off of The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get in 1973. Adding a more rock-oriented edge to the Eagles in the place of Bernie Leadon’s more country-flavored style, his contributions to the guitar work of the title track and the famous riffs of “Life in the Fast Lane” are especially notable. Walsh toured with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band in 1989, reunited with The Eagles for the Hell Freezes Over tour in 1994 and most recently joined Sir Paul McCartney for a performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Walsh hit the road in May 2012 for a Spring US solo tour in support of his album, Analog Man, released on June 5.
JazzFest is one of the largest free concerts in the United States attracting an average of almost 85,000 people each year from all over the Midwest. It is considered one of the major events Sioux Falls has to offer. Over 800 volunteers assist with JazzFest along with the support of various city departments and other community businesses.
JazzFest is free, but relies on nearly 100 cash and in-kind sponsors, donations from attendees and the sale of beverages during the JazzFest.
Dates for next year’s JazzFest are July 18-20, 2013.