Fair Nearing $1 Million in Sponsorships


Making sure everything is picture perfect, workers rake rocks days before the start of the Nebraska State Fair.

Advertising too is a part of the landscape, even on the buildings themselves.

And what business wouldn't want to be associated with something that's surpassed expectations?

"There was considerable angst about the fair coming out here and it's a very, very positive thing for Grand Island and Hall County," Bill Marshall said.

As a State Fair Board member, Marshall appreciates the support from businesses, including his own.

He's also chairman of Five Points Bank, which pays $75,000 a year to be associated with the livestock arena.

Marshall said, "Lots of potential customers go into that arena and we don't think it's a bad idea to have the Five Points Bank name on it."

Pinnacle Bank apparently agreed, recently committing to $60,000 a year to have its name on the expo building for the next decade.

The fair's marketing director Shaun Schleif said, "It's a great marketing investment for any business and second we use dollars to put right back into the fair."

Sponsorships are way up from the first year in Grand Island, when the total was $280,000.

"Now, four years later, cash sponsorships are just shy of $700,000," Schleif said. "If you add in in–kind sponsorships – those things we don't have to pay for, now the total this year is $967,000."

Sponsorships have grown along with attendance. Yet, ticket prices remain five or ten bucks a day, which fair officials think is a bargain.

Schleif said, "You can virtually spend the entire day without spending another dime. We have free concerts, free entertainment, strolling acts, stage entertainment, you name it. You can literally come to the fair for the price of gate admission and spend your whole day having fun with the family."

Sponsorships are up 25 percent just from last year.

Fair officials say that's the only way they're able to bring in several big name acts, free for fairgoers.