Utah County Fair History




Utah County Fair to return to its historical roots
Caleb Warnock - DAILY HERALD Jan 30, 2008

The Utah County Fair is leaving Thanksgiving Point to return to its roots. County Commissioner Larry Ellertson has con!rmed that the county has chosen not to extend its contract with Thanksgiving Point, and will return the fair to its historic home at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds.

Though they have not reached a formal agreement yet, the county is negotiating an ownership stake in the fairgrounds at Spanish Fork, he said. "Our interest is in working out an agreement that would provide a place for the fair, and other uses, in perpetuity," Ellertson said. "We are absolutely delighted," said Spanish Fork Mayor Joe Thomas. "At the end of the day, it is really a natural fit."

Councilman Wayne Andersen negotiated the deal after Commissioner Gary Anderson toured all the cities of Utah County last year, telling cities the county would like a new, open relationship. "I took him up on it," Andersen said. He asked the commissioner to tour the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, and said the city would like the fair back. "This is home for the fair," the councilman said.

Ellertson said the fair had a five-year contract with Thanksgiving Point, and extended that to a sixth year last year. Even though negotiations for a county stake in the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds are ongoing, there is a !rm agreement to hold the fair in Spanish Fork this year. Neither Ellertson nor Andersen would say how much the county may pay for an ownership stake in the fairgrounds because negotiations are ongoing, but the county paid $160,000 to stage the fair last year, when admission was free. Almost 30,000 people attended the fair in 2007, up from 22,500 in 2006 and 28,000 in 2005. This year's fair will be held Aug. 13-16. There had been reports that the fair was originally moved from Spanish Fork because of declining participation. When asked what would be done to ensure healthy attendance upon its return, Andersen said participation was never a factor. "I think the issue was that there were some personality conficts at that time," he said. "Participation in the fair has been strong and will continue to be stronger as long as we have the support of the commission, which I think we have now. I anticipate nothing but really positive results."

To encourage a countywide investment in the fair, the county is trying to staff the event's volunteer board with people from every city in the county, he said. Carol and Jay Harmer of Pleasant Grove were chosen three weeks ago to head the board. They may be an unlikely choice, as they admit they have not been to the fair in years and haven't been participants in the fair since they were involved in 4-H a quarter-century ago. But they are determined.

"This is going to be the best fair that Utah County has ever had," Carol Harmer said. Being so newly called, little is in place yet, they said. They would like to have old-fashioned tractor pulls, and maybe a demolition derby if it can be arranged.

        

"One of the things that I worry about is the youth of today sitting in front of the TV," Harmer said. "Through the fair we want to show them all the different opportunities that are out there besides just Nintendo."