Scaled-back State Fair attendance exceeds expectations

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 12:12 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - With an abbreviated Nebraska State Fair due to the coronavirus pandemic, attendance expectations were not high. But the actual numbers came in better than anticipated.

Bill Ogg, executive director of the Nebraska State Fair, said the preliminary attendance total was 50,235. That’s an average of just over 4,500 per day.

“That’s a pleasant number for this COVID-19 year, but that number is irrelevant compared to the fact that the folks that came I think felt safe, enjoyed some good fair food, helped us celebrate some fantastic Nebraska 4H and FFA youth and several open class livestock exhibits," Ogg said.

Nearly 80 percent of 4H and FFA youth that would show at a traditional State Fair attended this year.

Volunteers used clickers to count people as they went in at fair entrances. Ogg said attendance is likely higher than what’s reported, as not everyone was counted on busy days and some residents on the grounds never went through the gates.

State Fair Chief of Sales and Service Jaime Parr said earlier this week that they were hoping for 10 percent of a normal year at the fair. During the State Fair’s years in Grand Island, attendance has generally been in the 300,000 range. The 2020 attendance was 16 percent of that average.

Ogg said of the 14 food vendors at the 2020 State Fair, three reported a higher gross this year than last.

“The fact that it went so well is truly humbling and motivating,” Ogg said. “I can’t wait. Only 351 days until next year.”

A more complete breakdown of attendance at the 2020 Nebraska State Fair is expected next week.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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