DENVER (AP) – The government entity that runs the Colorado State Fair had another year of operating losses and needs additional tax money to ensure the event’s survival, according to an audit released Tuesday.

The Colorado State Fair Authority had a $2.8 million operating loss last year – a loss that was $400,000 more than the year before, the audit said. That means it has been more than 10 years that the State Fair has experienced operating losses.

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Attendance has declined during the last two years, fair officials say. The annual average attendance has been close to 500,000. The audit recommends that fair officials seek funding from the Joint Budget Committee, but it did not specify how much.

The audit said the Fair Authority has had operating losses for such a long time that the Colorado State Treasury recently had to grant it special authorization to maintain a deficit cash balance.

Lawmakers who received the audit said they were amenable to the idea of providing financial help. Democratic Sen. Lucia Guzman called the State Fair a “unique treasure” and said it’s a valuable education tool for young people.

“It’s beginning to have more to do with education, actually, than industry,” she said.

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The fair is held in Pueblo annually for 11 days in August and September. The event, which has been in existence for more than 125 years, includes a rodeo, carnival and agricultural showcases.

The state owns the 80 acres of land and the facilities at the State Fairgrounds, where the event is held.

Republican Sen. Steve King said he’s come to see the value of the fair over the years, after initially questioning why the operation should keep going, “not knowing the total spectrum of what our fair does for us, as far as tourism, as far as education of our kids, as far as 4-H, and so forth.”

– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

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