By Associated Press - Monday, March 22, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A scaled down version of the Nebraska State Fair in 2020 finished with a nearly $1.8 million profit, a substantial improvement over a disastrous fair the previous year, according to an annual audit,

An audit by BKD of Lincoln found last year’s fair had revenue of nearly $6.5 million, a drop of about 37% from 2019, The Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

However, because fair officials chose not to have a carnival or paid entertainment in response to the coronavirus pandemic, expenses declined to $3.7 million, about $7 million less than in 2019. With other factors such as interest and depreciation, the fair ended with a net profit of about $1.8 million.

The 2019 fair incurred a nearly $1.5 million loss after managers spent heavily on entertainment to celebrate the fair’s 150th anniversary before bad weather caused a sharp drop in attendance. Fair officials had to lay off nearly half the staff and take out $1.1 million in credit to cover bills.

An audit taken after that fair said Patrick Kopke, the fair’s former chief of finance, paid nearly $150,000 to a company he created for services that weren’t performed. Kopke was charged with felony theft. He has pleaded not guilty.

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