With over 73 million attendees, the Shanghai Expo holds the distinction of being not just the largest World’s Fair in history but the largest event in human history, the largest gathering of people in history for any reason.I suppose this depends in part on what one labels an "event." One could argue that watching the NFL season or the World Cup is an "event" which probably had significantly larger numbers of participants.
There's also this:
For more affluent societies, World’s Fairs might hold less of an appeal. But if you were a Shanghai bus driver, the Expo might be the sum of your exposure to the world. Ever. Indeed, more Chinese attended the World’s Fair this year than actually visited the world. These figures were even more pronounced at the USA Pavilion which hosted over 7 million visitors, over 10 times the number of Chinese who will visit the US this year. Each one of those pavilion visits constitutes a conversation of sort, in which the United States has a few minutes to engage the visitor and explain a little about our country. With over 73 million fairgoers each attending about a dozen pavilions during their visit, this makes for about 900 million total conversations. Simply put, the Shanghai Expo will do more to shape Chinese view of the world than any other mechanism.Here I think Lavin is on firmer ground.