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Fair attendance expected to exceed last year

Fair GM: Strong concert lineup, losing smartcards help draw crowds

Fair attendance expected to exceed last year

PUEBLO, Colo. - The Colorado State Fair is winding down on a positive note.

Attendance for the first nine days of the fair is up by nearly 19,000 visitors compared to the same time last year.

"Attendance is up. More importantly, revenues are up from gate to carnival to concert revenue to food revenue. All are tracking up right now," said general manager Chris Wiseman.

Wiseman expects about 495,000 fairgoers will have visited the fair this year. Last year, 476,966 people attended the fair. He believes this year's concert lineup has helped attract visitors.

"I'm not sure it's going to be record-setting," he said. "But it certainly will be an improvement over last year and maybe a substantial improvement over last year."

Kevin Baker, owner of Primetime, said he has seen a boost in revenue.

"It's been a good fair. We're running about 20 percent up so far," Baker said. "We were down a little bit last year and we've gained that back this year so we're happy with that."

Baker, like other food vendors, said the cashless system used at last year's fair made sales difficult.

"I think doing away with the smartcards was a good move. I think it's helping to boost attendance," Wiseman said.

That boost in attendance is just what Wiseman wants to have in his back pocket, when the age-old debate of moving the fair to Denver reignites.

"Heck no! It belongs in Pueblo," said Diana Higgs, a fairgoer from Pueblo. "That's one of Pueblo's biggest things and it's a tradition. We need it here in Pueblo."

"Duplicating this facility would be in excess of half a billion dollars," Wiseman said. "There's not another facility in the state of Colorado that can do what we do."

A Denver fairgoer told KRDO NewsChannel 13 he plans to keep driving to Pueblo for the fair.

"I think having it down here in Pueblo brings a lot of culture and everything else coming down here," said Julian Herrera.

Those who still have money on their smartcards from last year can get a refund at the Palace of Agriculture on the fairgrounds. Wiseman said about $145,000 still has not been claimed.

The fair opens on Labor Day at 10 a.m. For a list of events, visit: http://www.coloradostatefair.com/events

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