While about two-thirds of Nebraska State Fair-goers say the 2013 fair was better than last year's, not as many people came to see it.
Fair officials report 334,931 visitors, just over 2,000 less than 2012, but say looking at daily breakdowns compared to the weather explains the decrease.
Eight of the fair's 11 days experienced temperatures above 90 degrees, and six of those eight days saw decreases in visitors.
"I think that shows that obviously the heat did prevent fairgoers from coming out during the week, and they all showed up on the weekend," says Executive Director Joseph McDermott.
Sunday, Sept. 1 saw a 21 percent jump in attendees and Labor Day followed closely behind with a 15 percent increase. McDermott says that Sunday also set a new single-day attendance record since the fair's move to GI with over 71,000 people passing through the gates.
Officials also broke down attendance geography: 61 percent of visitors came from central Nebraska. Omaha and Lincoln numbers were up slightly from 2012 to 17 percent.
The fair board says they're pleased with the fair and survey results from fairgoers that gave overall enjoyment a 4.4 out of 5.
"93.4 percent said they would recommend it to their family and friends, that really means a lot to us," says Jana Kruger, Board Chair. "It really says that we're on the right track by keeping agriculture first and making our event one that the entire family feels comfortable coming to."
As vendors like GROW Nebraska packed up on Tuesday they say they noticed lower sales this year, but says overall totals for them have been double what they were seeing when the fair was in Lincoln.
"We didn't reach what our sales expectations were, but as far as last year's sales we weren't down that much," says GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke. "We've been fortunate, every year since we've been involved with the Nebraska State Fair our sales have gone up, so this is the first year it hasn't."
Now Kruger says their focus will be on 2014.
"[Every day of the fair] we talk about what happened the day before and we look at what's happening on the present day but the word[s] 'next year' [are] always in the air and we're always thinking ahead, wondering how we can improve," she says.
The board plans to look ahead even farther by working on a 5-10 Year Building Plan at their meeting next month.