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State Fair could profit in Jacksonville

A Minnesota-based consulting firm told members of the State Fair Commission that moving the fair to the I-40/I-440 corridor near Jacksonville from the current Roosevelt Road site would be economically profitable.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A Minnesota-based consulting firm told members of the State Fair Commission that moving the fair to the I-40/I-440 corridor near Jacksonville from the current Roosevelt Road site would be economically profitable.

Rod Markin of Markin Consultants said the Jacksonville site could raise fair attendance by more than fifty percent.

"It would be a much better fair, a much bigger fair. It would provide more space," said Markin.

Markin said the state fairgrounds could rake in more money if not only relocates, but build bigger buildings at the Jacksonville location. The bigger space would attract more regional and national events.

Right now, the fair is the biggest event, but when it rains, attendance drops and the profit plummets.

"If it can't generate more non-fair revenue, it will continue to rely on weather-impacted events for its bottom line," said Markin.

Board members will have to decide on moving the fair. The biggest factor is money, as it would cost around $200 million to build the facilities.

"We're out of room. We have 96 acres that we can use and the average size for a state fair is 366," said Ralph Shoptaw, the general manager of the commission.

Shoptaw said construction could take between three to five years.

The study shows many wanted the fair out due to crime along Roosevelt Road.
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