GRAND ISLAND — Attendance at the Nebraska State Fair set another record since moving to Grand Island and approached the event's 20-year-old all-time record.

State Fair officials on Tuesday said 379,108 people attended this year's 11-day event, which wrapped up Monday. It's the first time attendance in Grand Island surpassed crowds at the final fair held in Lincoln in 2009.

"Our numbers this year are far better than expected," said Executive Director Joseph McDermott, adding that the attendance numbers are due in part to the hard work of State Fair staff and board members.

McDermott said surveys completed by fairgoers indicate more attendees from the Lincoln and Omaha area, accounting for over 20 percent of turnstile traffic.

Residents of central Nebraska accounted for over 60 percent of the crowds at the State Fair.

Popular concerts helped to contribute to larger crowds, with 12,843 turning out to see a cappella group Pentatonix on the opening weekend. The fair's first Saturday topped all other days for attendance, with 62,954 people at the fair.

Chris Kircher, chairman of the State Fair Board, said officials will work to address complaints about long security lines and poor concert sight lines ahead of next year's event.

The fair's all-time attendance record of 389,171 was set in 1997.


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