State Fair's Economic Impact on Grand Island

By: Kim Cung - Email
By: Kim Cung - Email

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Before Grand Island hosted its first state fair five years ago, a study was conducted to see what the economic impact would be. And now, five years later, the Chamber of Commerce says the numbers are extremely close.

The projected impact was $21 million per year and a new study from the Chamber of Commerce said the predictions are pretty much true.

"We can see that there's a $20 million dollar impact of the state fair and the state fair operations on Grand Island. That is significant. That is significant and it's certainly one mark of success for the Nebraska State Fair, here in Grand Island," said Cindy Johnson, the President of Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

Hotel managers would agree. The Best Western is sold out for the fair far in advance.

"Around here usually about a year...so when you're checking out you might want to check in and see if what we've got going on for the following year," said Matthew Ripp, the general manager of the Best Western Grand Island.

Lots of people go to the fair to eat the food. And restaurants, including Uncle Ed's Steakhouse who double up with a stand at the fair and a location nearby, see big business boosts.

Ed Sabatka, the owner said, "They come by the concessions and they go you know, we're going to go try your restaurant. So well we was at your restaurant last night, so we come to eat your barbecue today. And so we get it both ways so it's kind of a...extra benefit you'd say."

But restaurants on the opposite side of town said they don't see a steady increase in sales throughout the fair.

"There's not...I wouldn't say a sales increase, but we see more sales toward the end or the beginning when people are coming in and out of the hotels for the meals then," said Ryan Ewoldt, the general manager at Carlos O'Kelly's.

A few area restaurants including Carlos O'Kelly's, said they're hoping to participate in the fair next year by having a tent to serve food.


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