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State Fair Strategies: What's The Payoff For Lowering Ticket Prices?

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - People attending the Puyallup Fair look skyward as fireworks go off near a carnival ride, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Puyallup, Washington.

It's August, which means state fair season is underway in the Northwest. From new names to lower ticket prices, fair organizers are trying hard to get people through the gates.

Remember the Puyallup Fair? It's now the Washington State Fair. The name change was meant to broaden its appeal.

In Oregon, ticket prices have been slashed for the 149th edition of the Oregon State Fair, which starts Aug. 22. It follows a nearly 6-percent drop in attendance from the year before.

Oregon State Fair spokesman Dan Cox said the lower prices are meant to do exactly what you think: Get more people to come. But Cox said the fair is also wary of cutting prices too much.

"There is a balance point between delivering a value and still making enough money for it to function on its own and to prosper on its own," he said.

That's what state fairs have to do now. They still show off craft displays and hold livestock competitions. But they also peddle cotton candy and corn dogs. So even with a lower ticket price, fair-goers still have plenty of chances to contribute to the bottom line.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.