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Dubuque County Fair Seeks Help After Losses

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The Dubuque County Fair Association is blaming declining attendance and rising energy costs for losses that have put the organization in a financial bind.

The fair’s finance committee will meet with bank advisers Thursday to develop a proposal in which the organization would seek help from the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors, the Telegraph Herald reported.

Fair General Manager Jamie Blum said the fair has had losses totaling $111,570 in the past few years while energy costs have climbed by about $10,000. As a result, the fair is at the limit of its $100,000 line of credit.

“It really comes down to the weather,” Blum said of the attendance drop. “We try to keep to our budget as best we can, but those are the things we can’t control.”

Fair officials hope for attendance between 60,000 and 70,000, and Blum said last year’s turnout was just below that range. About 55,000 people attended the fair in 2012, but attendance was much worse in 2011, when the area was drenched by about 15 inches of rain during the event and some areas saw serious flooding.

“The last thing (residents) were thinking about was coming out to the fair,” Blum said. “They had enough to deal with at home, with the expense and time needed for repairs.”

Fair officials outlined the situation last week to the Board of Supervisors, which asked for a formal funding request.

Supervisor Chairman Wayne Demmer said officials need a better understanding before providing a loan or taking other action.

“We wanted them to show some justification, whether the option is money to help with cash flow, like we do for county departments,” Demmer said.

This year’s fair is set to begin its six-day run on June 22.

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