A state audit shows the Iowa State Fair makes about twice as much on ticket sales as it does from the businesses that sell food and drink during the fair’s 11-day run.
The audit reviewed the records from the 2013 Iowa State Fair and found more than $7 million worth of admission tickets were sold. The owners of concession stands paid the Fair $3.5 million.
Entertainment venues — mainly the evening Grandstand shows — brought in almost $2.4 million in revenue. A Des Moines Register analysis reviewed Grandstand shows dating back to the 2008 Fair. The paper found nine of the 53 acts during those six fairs cost more to bring in than they earned in ticket sales. Some of the biggest losers for the Fair’s bottom line were Janet Jackson’s 2011 Grandstand show and a 2013 show featuring three former Saturday Night Live performers.
The state audit shows 89 percent of the Iowa State Fair Authority’s revenue comes from activity during the 11-day Fair. The rest comes from renting out space for events on the fairgrounds throughout the rest of the year. Once the more than $20 million in expenses for the 2013 Iowa State Fair were paid, last year’s fair cleared over a million dollars.
The 2014 Iowa State Fair starts next Thursday.