NEA Fair week isn't a smooth ride for some local businesses

By Amanda Hanson  - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - While the NEA District Fair brings thousands of people and their money into Jonesboro, some businesses actually despise fair week.

This fair is one the largest in the state with plenty of food, rides, and entertainment for the whole family. But, for some businesses in this neighborhood, this week is anything but a smooth ride.

"Some of our drivers license when you check then they're from Kentucky, Tennessee," says Mitch Johnson, the Assistant Manager of the NEA District Fair. "I think it's a real positive impact."

He says nearly 60,000 people come through the gates each year. "People coming into town staying in the motels. Folks are eating here, as well as some of the retailers," says Johnson.

But some Region 8 businesses aren't seeing the boom from the fair. "We see very little positive impact," says Doris Hannah, the General Manager at the Hampton Inn nearby. "We just don't get a lot of transit business for the fair. We've had one particular person this time of the fair that came for the concert but other than that, that's it."

"We lose money," says Daniel Springston, manager at the Ryan's off Highland. He says every year it's the same thing. People park in their lot, but go to the fair. "Makes the parking lot appear full. People driving by say well that restaurant is full when really there's no one in here," says Springston, which leaves the family steak house, without many families.

"We have a lot of regulars and they've already told us they don't like to come during the fair time. It's going to hit us big. We're going to range from 200 to 300 customers normally on a Friday or Saturday night, it's going to be down to like a 100 maybe even 50," he says.

Johnson says about 74 hundred people filed through the gates on opening night, which is above what they had last year. The Northeast Arkansas District fair runs through Saturday night.

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