The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 3, 2014

Iowa State Fair Board eyes another no-cash system


Associated Press

DES MOINES — The Iowa State Fair Board is still discussing a way to eliminate cash sales at food vendors and other attractions.

The board has been considering prepaid plastic cards similar to credit cards, even though no changes are planned for this summer's fair, according to The Des Moines Register.

Following a public outcry, officials announced Jan. 9 that they were scrapping plans for a cashless system this summer that would have used tickets purchased online or at several sites on the fairgrounds.

The continuing effort was made clear in emails obtained by the Register through a public records request.

Fair board member Jerry Parkin wrote in a Jan. 8 email to county fair leaders that he hopes to offer a "credit-type card" that people at the fair could load "with any amount they want and use that throughout the fair."

State Fair CEO Gary Slater said in an interview the prepaid cards wouldn't cause long lines at the fair, which was a concern about the earlier plan for switching from cash to tickets.

Slater also said the credit cards could be used at any business that accepts credit cards, so fairgoers could easily spend money remaining after a fair visit.

"They're like a gift card that you can reload with money and use anywhere in the fair," Slater said. "If there was any money left on it I could take that with me and use it to fill the car up with gas."

If the fair board moves ahead with the card idea, it likely would be implemented gradually as part of a pilot project to ensure the technology would work, Slater said.

This year's fair will run from Aug. 7-17.