After some struggles with attendance in the past, the Douglas County Fair is back in 2018 with a new location and leadership. Because of the fresh look, fair supporters are optimistic that Nebraska's oldest fair can sustain itself at Village Pointe Mall.
"Omaha has an agriculture heritage and everybody here is within a generation or two of the farm or at least a farm job," Clare Duda, county board member.
Douglas County Board Member Clare Duda believes a fair is essential for Douglas County.
He's had to fight for it over the past several years as the fair has switched several locations and lost funding from property tax money. So the fair is getting by with no staffing, no office and little support. This year the extension foundation stepped in to run the fair, with the help of volunteers.
“From a political end, it's surviving with no property tax dollars and that's important. That takes a real dedicated group of volunteers and we've got it with extension," says Duda.
The fair is now giving Village Pointe Mall a shot, with other exhibits being shown at Chance Ridge Event Center in Elkhorn. Fair Executive Director Vernon Waldren says it's important for Omahans to check out both spots and really understand and appreciate where your food comes from.
“People in this state are impacted by agriculture in some factor so we want people to understand that and how important it is and where it all ties together," says Waldren.
While the fair does not offer the carnival attractions other fairs may have, Duda says he has hope for the fair's future after watching attendees on Thursday.
“That's what I want to see is people going to the fair having fun, I go to the fair every year and I'm already seeing more enthusiasm, more activities. If we see people having a good time then we're going to want to do what we can to keep it going," says Duda.
Organizers say there that while they would like as many as possible to show up, there is no attendance goal for the 2018 fair. Fair activities continue through the weekend including a parade on Saturday morning.