said to be the largest public attraction in Utah next to the State Fair - got under way Friday with a special VIP preview look at 10 new "dream" houses in a picturebook setting in the Hidden Oaks development in southeast Sandy.

The show, at 2220 E. 117th South, opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday and runs through Aug. 28.Cutting the ribbon - in this case sawing a length of one-by-four lumber - for this year's home show was Dale Stuard, a Newport Beach, Calif., builder who is president of the 150,000-member National Association of Home Builders.

Stuard told some 300 members of the Utah construction industry at the opening that they should not be alarmed by the rise in interest rates announced this week by the Federal Reserve. In the long term, he said, it will be good for business because it means the government is fighting inflation.

The 1988 Parade of Homes is the most lavish ever with prices of the 10 model homes ranging in price from $180,000 for the "Summer Cottage" to $500,000 for "Sheffield Manor," a custom home built for Hidden Oaks developer Steve Sheffield and his family.

This year, the show is divided into two sectors. The Village models are, for the most part, smaller homes on smaller lots. The Green homes are larger, on larger lots and more expensive. Judges' awards for excellence in eight categories were presented to homes in each sector.

The Governor's Award, for overall excellence, went to (Village) "Laurel Place," built by K-B Builders, interior design by Julie Johnson-Dunn & Susanne Snow, architect Robert McArthur; and (Green) "Stanza," Rod Irwin builder interior design Rod Irwin Design Group architect Craig Kitterman.

Those two homes also won the President's Award. Those attending the show over its two-week run will vote on the "People's Choice" awards.

In his remarks at the grand opening, Stuard said builders and real estate agents need to get the word out quickly that, despite this week's rise in interest rates, there will be about a 60-day "window" before the increase affects mortgage interest rates.

"Let people know there's a lag time where rates will stay a little lower, but they have to buy now," Stuard said.

Stuard said builders must now spend more time deciding what to build, than they do building it. "It's not enough to be just a good builder anymore. You have to be a good businessman, especially in marketing. Knowing the demographics of your market area is everything. You have to do your homework."

It's all well and good to build $250,000-and-up luxury homes such as those in this year's Parade of Homes, said Stuard, but he told builders they must not neglect first-time buyers. Without people buying homes at the bottom of the ladder, there is no way for current homeowners to sell their homes and move up.

Stuard said builders need to do more work on making adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) acceptable to Utah buyers. With starting rates typically two percentage points below fixed loan rates, that's the best way to increase the number of buyers who qualify for loans.