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Declining Revenues for Fair Again

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The New Mexico State Fair posted its third straight year of declining revenues in 2012, but the deficit has slowed from a stream to a trickle.

Revenues from the truncated Sept. 12-23 fair were $5.1 million – a 0.5 percent drop from the 2011 fair, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by state fair officials.

For the first time in more than a decade, fair officials cut the fair to 12 consecutive days in their latest effort to have Expo New Mexico, the venue that hosts the State Fair, operate in the black. The fair also offered free parking.

Although attendance rose 1.9 percent despite an increase in ticket prices, it wasn’t enough to increase revenues. The 2012 fair drew 407,265 visitors, Expo officials said.

Historically, the fair has run for 17 consecutive days. In 2010 and 2011, it was closed Mondays and Tuesdays in an unsuccessful effort to improve its bottom line.

Still, state fair general manager Dan Mourning – appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez in February 2011 – is pleased with the results.

“Frankly, we expected revenues to be down by 5 percent or more with one less weekend and free general parking,” Mourning said in a news release, “but we put into place a variety of cost-cutting measures to offset any nominal decrease, so the fact that we’re within half a percent of last year’s take means the fair turned a profit this year. Just how much of a profit remains to be seen …”

State Fair revenues typically account for about one-third of Expo New Mexico’s annual revenues, fair officials have said.

Expo operates as a state “enterprise fund,” meaning it’s supposed to pay for itself. Though the state Legislature does not fund Expo directly, it gives the fairgrounds capital outlay money to maintain and improve its facilities.

The State Fair hasn’t seen an uptick in revenues since 2010.

During the fair’s heyday in 2007, attendance was 738,664 and revenues topped $6 million for the first time.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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