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Utah State Fairpark Officials Make the Case for Another Long-term Lease

Andrea Smardon

The long term future of the Utah State Fair has been in question for years, but it will likely be decided in a matter of months. Members of the Fairpark board presented their business plan to a group of state lawmakers last week.

On Friday, lawmakers toured the animals, the rides, the performances and sampled the fried foods that the Utah State Fair offers, but all of this may be in jeopardy if lawmakers do not renew the lease that expires in 2017. Board members presented a business plan, making the case that the Fairpark can be profitable with the necessary investments. Representative Mike McKell of Spanish Fork is chair of the Fairpark Working Group.

“I was very impressed with the state fair board; they made a very good presentation,” McKell says. “It’s very clear to me that we’ve given them a nearly impossible task. We’ve asked them to put on a world class fair and create a fairpark that’s profitable, yet we haven’t given them the tools to do that.”

The business plan includes extending the duration of the fair past 11 days, more and bigger events on the fairpark grounds during the rest of the year, a new exhibition center and stadium, and improvements to existing buildings and grounds that have been neglected for several years. McKell says the state can’t continue to defer maintenance.

“We need to resolve this issue once and for all, find the solution and start moving forward and enabling the state fair board to have the tools they need to fulfill the responsibilities we’ve given them,” he says.

McKell says the fairpark will require more funding to be successful, and the working group is looking at both private and public sources. He says the group is committed to making a recommendation before the legislative session in January next year.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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