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Iowa Fairs Making Transition To Cashless Systems

Statewide Iowa — Well over half of the purchases for food, beverages and other items at last year’s Iowa State Fair were done electronically.

Gary Slater, the General Manager and CEO of the fair, expects that to increase for this year’s event.

In 2014,  Iowa State Fair announced a cashless system for buying food during that year’s state fair when there was significant push back, and the plan was abandoned eight years ago. Various surveys indicate at least 80 percent of Americans make cashless purchases today. According to Pew Research, a third of people under the age of 50 make no purchases with cash in a typical week. Slater says the pandemic accelerated that trend.

Officials at the Iowa State Fair say that people who’ve purchased tickets for shows during the 2022 Iowa State Fair have the option to show a QR code from their smart phone at the Grandstand entrance. Tom Barnes is executive secretary of the Mighty Howard County Fair, which was held in June. He’s also executive director of the Association of Iowa Fairs.

That lack of high speed WiFi prevents vendors at many county fairs from processing electronic transactions. According to Pew Research, a third of people under the age of 50 make no purchases with cash in a typical week.

Barnes and Slater made their comments during a recent appearance on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.

The Iowa State Fair starts August 11th.

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