The Utah State Fair is nearly two months away, but the fairgrounds are being spruced up and readied for the annual exposition and pre-fair events.

Projects include sodding an area with grass for a series of four outdoor concerts that begin July 25, grading a dusty, rocky area that will be turned into soccer fields and installing new lighting equipment.Also, a large vegetable and flower garden is being planted. Horse barns are being painted and other buildings are being prepared for the fair, scheduled for Sept. 8-18.

"We're getting gorgeous!" said Fair Director Jackie Nokes, who urged Utahns to visit the fairgrounds more than just once a year."The fairgrounds are being cleaned and modernized. We're calling the fairgrounds the historic Utah State FairPark because we want Utahns to know they're welcome each day of the year."

All but one of the buildings at the fairgrounds, which housed military troops during World War II and which has 27 of its structures listed on the National Register of Historical Places, are open to the public. Dances, conferences, family reunions and luncheons may be scheduled.

Free concerts will be offered on four consecutive Monday nights beginning July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds gazebo. The Disgusting Brothers are tentatively scheduled at the first concert. Other entertainers are the Saliva Sisters, the Joe Muscolino Band and the Fourth Avenue Rock 'N' Roll Band.

Music buffs are encouraged to bring blankets and to enjoy the concerts in a picnic-style setting.

Saturday and Sunday, members of the Utah National Guard will grade what is now a dusty, rocky area on the north end of the FairPark. That area, to be sodded, will be available for soccer, picnics and other activities, and for overflow fair parking, said Terry Corbell, assistant fair director.

Sgt. Dan Edwards, 115th Engineers Group, Murray, directed survey work, and Sgt. Walt Rowley of the 116th Engineers Co., Springville, is spearheading the grading. Design of the parking lot and soccer fields was provided without charge by landscape architect Karsten Hansen.

Forty light poles, donated by the Utah Department of Transportation, will be installed in an expanded fairgrounds parking lot and along the Jordan River Parkway. A fence along the river will be removed to allow visitors better access to the river, where a bird sanctuary is planned.

Master Sgt. Larry Adams of the 151st Civil Engineering Squadron, Utah Air National Guard, is in charge of installing the lighting equipment.

The vegetable and flower garden, designed at no cost to the state by landscape architect Leonard Grassli, is being planted by Utah State University agricultural experts behind the administration building.

Reynolds Brothers, Murray, has hauled tons of topsoil for use in various areas of the fairgrounds.

For this year's fair the carnival will be moved to the center of the fairgrounds. And a rebuilt bandstand stage, where nightly reggae and rock concerts will be featured, has been moved to the parkway area.

Nokes said many businesses, organizations and individuals have donated money, time and other services to help restore buildings and upgrade the park.

"Improvements made or under way will give the 1988 Fair a brand new look," Nokes added.