State fair attendance down 50% from last year - WSMV Channel 4

State fair attendance down 50% from last year

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

There will be a state fair next year at the fairgrounds in Nashville, but there was a big decrease from the previous year's attendance and controversy continues.

The Tennessee State Fair Association said attendance was only half from the year before, and the non-profit who organized the fair lost almost $100,000.

John Rose of the Tennessee State Fair Association said they did the best they could in the two months the board gave them to organize the event.

"The time frame we had was the most frustrating aspect of the 2011 fair," said Rose.

But many believe the board purposely didn't give the association time to adequately plan the event.

Metro Councilman Duane Dominy said dozens of his constituents believe the board is pushing an agenda of Mayor Karl Dean's to redevelop the fairgrounds.

"A lot of people are concerned about their efforts to force the property to fail," said Dominy.

The mayor and fair board have never confirmed an agenda, but skepticism was raised again Tuesday morning when the board did not give the Tennessee State Fair Association approval to begin planning for next year's fair, despite the fact that group has a contract to put on the 2012 fair.

"Certainly the controversy has made it very difficult. We hoped that the fair board would give us a full year to prepare. Now, it will be November until we know," said Rose.

As a result, Rose said there are a handful of events that will be dropped from their 2012 lineup.

As for the future of the fairgrounds, the fair board and two other Metro agencies are creating a master plan for what would work best on the property. They're looking at options like a NASCAR event, electric racing or music festivals.

Plans for the master plan will begin in January, and the public will be allowed to give input.

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