It looks like Utah County will have a fair this year, but it won't be called the Utah County Fair.
County officials and Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce officials are proposing a new fair they say will be self-supporting. And to give it a new look and to bring it more recognition, they are proposing it be called the Utah Valley County Fair."This is something that looks real exciting and appears to be a real possibility," Commissioner Malcolm Beck said.
The new proposal, being spearheaded by the chamber, calls for the county to provide start-up money, with guarantees, with the intent that the fair would become self-sufficient by next year. The chamber's goal is to make the fair self-supporting through donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, rent on exhibit space and souvenir sales.
"We want the fair to be able to support itself," said Brian Utley, chamber director of personnel.
In 1990, a scaled-down Utah County Fair was held. In 1989, only the 4-H exhibits were held. In neither year did the county provide funding.
In last November's general election, county residents defeated by almost a 2-1 margin a measure that would have devoted a portion of county taxes to sponsor the fair.
However, county commissioners say the county would only provide start-up money to the fair and would not subsidize it. If the fair is successful, the money would be reimbursed. If the fair proves not to be self-sufficient, the county would not step in to provide financial backing.
"We have no plans to subsidize a county fair," Commissioner Gary Herbert said.
As part of a three-year contract with the county, the chamber would run the fair with active participation from other chambers throughout the county. A fair board would be established to oversee its operation and budget. The board would set up a Utah Valley County Fair office to be located in space donated by the county, probably in the old County Courthouse.
The chamber is also proposing that Utley be installed as the board's first president. He would devote half his time to chamber duties and half his time to fair duties.
The start-up funds would come from proceeds received from implementing the restaurant tax and about $7,600 left over from last year's fair, $3,400 of which is Geneva Steel's sponsorship of the fair's 4-H events. The amount the county would initially contribute has not yet been determined. Sometime in the next few weeks, chamber officials and Mel Hudman, a fair organizer, will present a proposed budget to the commissioners for their approval.
"We'll need to analyze that carefully and see if this thing is feasible," Herbert said.
Commissioners said using proceeds from the restaurant tax is appropriate. Herbert said the fair "will bring tourists into the area, and that was one of the reasons the tax was imposed - to provide funding for tourist-related activities."
Steve Densley, chamber president, said the fair, like the Freedom Festival, would bring in a tremendous amount of tourism dollars to the local economy.
As in the past, the fair would be held at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, with the possibility of using multiple sites. If the Utah Valley Special Events Center is built, some fair events may be held there. The proposed dates for the fair are Aug. 12-17.