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State Fair remains strong, but leaders mindful of soft farm economy

nebraska state fair 2016 sunburst.jpg

Attendance and sponsorships for the Nebraska State Fair remain strong, but fair leaders are concerned about economic uncertainty.

As an event that celebrates agriculture, the Nebraska State Fair and its board are mindful of the farm economy.

University of Nebraska economists say after three years of declines, they expect it'll take another three years for farm income to rise again.

So the fair board is looking for new revenue as well as places to cut back.

Executive Director Joseph McDermott said, “The ag economy is soft. We receive lottery proceeds, and while that's been steady, you never know. So we're just trying to make sure we're running an efficient event from a financial standpoint, and have a rainy day fund available in case we do run into a bad year.”

The numbers from 2016 look good. The Thomas Rhett concert was a winner, but two other outdoor shows sold fewer tickets than hoped.

So the fair will scale back from three to two big concerts.

McDermott said, “It was a difficult year for concerts, quite honestly. We expected maybe a little better for Lady Antebellum. Thomas Rhett did very well, but Train Sunday night was a tough concert.”

McDermott says sponsorships are steady, and people want to be part of a winning team.

All the same, they're planning in case income is down, but do plan to book A-list acts, and continue to make improvements.

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