Look out! A phenomenal number of people are about to pour into Madison for the World Dairy Expo " more than 65,000, according to the event's organizers. That's an influx equal to 30% of the city's population and eight times the number of area hotel rooms.
"Be one of more than 65,000 dairy industry enthusiasts who make the trip," exclaims a Web posting for the event, set for Oct. 3-7 at the Alliant Center. That sure makes it sound as though there are 65,000 actual individuals, each with their own names, birth dates and Social Security numbers.
In fact, confirms Expo marketing manager Liz Behnke, this represents total attendance for the five-day event and includes folks staffing the roughly 1,500 booths. So how many people will the event actually draw?
"Sixty-five thousand," says Behnke.
But wait: If some people are there for more than one day, should they be counted as more than one person? Behnke says the Expo arrives at this number in concert with the Greater Madison Visitors and Convention Bureau, using an "accepted formula" which she's too busy to explain: "We've got 65,000 people to get ready for."
Bureau president Deb Archer says Expo organizers provide the attendance figures, which her group crunches to project the economic impact. But she stresses, "We don't question their numbers." The bureau says Expo attendees fill about 7,000 of the Madison area's 8,500 hotel rooms, with an average of two people per room. It cites Expo figures that 62% of those who attended in 2005 did so for two or more days, then proceeds to treat 65,000 as the actual number of people, not including repeats.
Alliant Center director Bill DiCarlo says the facility holds about 12,000 people. He agrees the call to join "more than 65,000 dairy industry enthusiasts" suggests the event draws 65,000 different folks, then swings round to defending this number: "That's an industry practice. Those people all eat every day and stay over every night."
By that standard, the population of Madison is about 81 million, so we should have plenty of room.