Iowa State Fair Board says no ticket system after all

Photo from Iowa State Fair website

Photo from Iowa State Fair website

After heavy criticism from potential fairgoers and even Governor Terry Branstad, the Iowa State Fair officials say they will not move to a cashless payment system.

Fair organizers announced a new system January 7, 2014, in which fairgoers would be required to buy tickets for use at food and drink vendors throughout the fair.  Fair organizers said the new system was aimed at providing more convenience and security to fairgoers and vendors by eliminating risks associated with large amounts of cash.

The backlash on the State Fair Facebook page and elsewhere was heavy and swift.

Critics said the system added an unnecessary extra step to fairgoers, who would have to stand in line for tickets only to stand in another line to spend them.   Many also voiced concerns for hassles for fairgoers who either over-buy or under-buy those tickets.  Some even threatened to avoid the fair altogether.

The State Fair Board posted an online update January 9, 2014, rescinding their plan for a cashless system at the 2014 Iowa State Fair.

“Instead, they will continue to investigate future implementation of a more progressive system that will eliminate Fairgoers’ concerns of the inconvenience of paper tickets and long lines, improve the concessionaires’ reporting system and accommodate the Fair’s infrastructure,” the announcement post said.  “Passionate Fairgoers help make the Iowa State Fair the best in the nation, and the Fair Board strives to implement policies that improve the Fair’s financial integrity while simultaneously benefiting its loyal fans.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad praised the decision.

“When making a decision affecting so many individuals, it’s important to find a consensus. This decision will ensure convenience and efficiency for State Fair visitors,” Branstad said in an online post. 

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