State Fair Attendance Steady; More New, Lincoln Visitors


Attracting new visitors, the Nebraska State Fair appears to be right on target. Fair leaders said the new Nebraska Building would bring a "wow factor", and it seems to have delivered.

"It's pretty awesome," Cindi Heath of Hastings said.

Overall attendance is down slightly. As of Monday, just over 100,000 visitors have passed through the gates. That's a four percent decline.

One bright spot -- the first Saturday was up over the same day a year ago with 45,572 visitors. Sunday saw a 17 percent drop from the same day a year ago.

Fair director Joseph McDermott said there was no concert Sunday, while 2013 saw a performance by Trace Adkins on that day. He believes that contributed to the decrease.

They're also up in a key area.

McDermott said, "We are getting more visitors from Lincoln and I think Game and Parks exhibits is part of that. I can't tell you how big a draw that was in Lincoln."

Game and Parks has brought back favorites like an aquarium, along with some new twists.

Fair Board Chair Jana Kruger said, "A great fair has two things. Tradition - we want to see cattle and corndocorn dogswe also want to see something new. Show me something."

Cindi and Alice from Hastings not only saw new things, they tried new things, including the Game and Parks shooting range.

"It's fun," Alice Janssen said.

Cindi added, "First time I ever shot a gun."

Surveys show nearly four out of five people say the fair is better than last year. Nearly everyone says it's family friendly.

So an uptick in Lincoln visitors may spread positive word of mouth to the capital city.

Kruger said, "If we can just get people here, they come back and say 'I don't want to miss it. I don't know what I was waiting on.'"

One thing they can't control is the weather. Weekend attendance was good despite the heat and humidity. With the rainy weather that came Monday, they've been dumping rock in low spots in the parking lot and say they have a vendor on 24 hour standby if conditions deteriorate.

Attendance Comparison:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Friday 11021 21875 15073 16179 15000 Saturday 42785 45127 42742 43145 45572 Sunday 32464 27654 36961 30125 25081 Monday 11479 16172 13260 14583 15000 Tuesday 22335 18195 19736 19456 Wednesday 14602 24985 23064 22163 Thursday 23269 14524 19389 17058 Friday 26419 23869 26433 24315 Saturday 37513 38201 52195 42712 Sunday 53795 67929 58770 71355 Monday 33718 34512 29364 33840 Totals 309,400 333,043 336,987 334,931