Nebraska State Fair attendance up slightly

2012-08-28T13:15:00Z 2012-08-31T17:57:03Z Nebraska State Fair attendance up slightlyBy ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star

Attendance at the Nebraska State Fair was up 165 people through the first weekend.

The three-day total was 94,776, Fair Board Chairwoman Jana Kruger of Arlington said at a Tuesday morning news conference at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

Saturday, the day of the fairgrounds debate between Senate hopefuls Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer, was the big day of the three, drawing 42,742, despite morning rain.

“That probably attracted some people who have never been here, who have never been to Grand Island,” Kruger said of the debate.

Opening-day attendance Friday was 15,073, and the first Sunday of the fair attracted 36,961.

Joseph McDermott, the fair’s executive director, used the news conference to offer condolences to the family of Charlie DeWeese, who died Sunday morning in a tractor rollover.

DeWeese, of Thayer, Kan., was killed while trying to load a tractor onto a trailer in a staging area that also had been used Saturday to organize participants in the World’s Largest Parade of Classic Tractors.

That effort attracted 964 tractors and qualified as a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In his turn at the podium Tuesday, State Patrol Lt. Dennis Leonard said DeWeese died after getting “a little bit too close to the edge of a loading ramp” as he backed onto the trailer. The tractor tipped off the ramp and pinned him underneath.

Funeral arrangements for DeWeese in Kansas still are pending.

On a brighter note, Kruger said the fair’s annual electronic survey of visitors showed that 79 percent of those on the grounds for opening weekend attended the fair last year. Those offering feedback at electronic kiosks gave the fair a 4.38 on a scale of 5 in rating their degree of satisfaction.

The 11-day fair continues through Labor Day.

Reach Art Hovey at 402-473-7223 or at

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