SPANISH FORK The Utah County Fair returned home to the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds earlier this year, and, thanks to a deal the City Council approved Tuesday, it's home to stay.
Spanish Fork City Council members unanimously approved a deal with Utah County to host the Utah County Fair at the city's fairgrounds on 475 S. Main, saying they believed it to be a move that serves as a homecoming of sorts for the event.
"This is really where it belongs," City Councilman Richard Davis said. "We had the facilities. ... This is just where it needed to be."
Utah County Commissioner Larry Ellertson said the deal came together because the county wanted to provide residents access to an equestrian center, and Spanish Fork wanted to expand its fairgrounds.
"It was kind of the perfect storm at the time," Ellertson said.
As part of the deal, Utah County officials bought 11 acres east of the fairgrounds for about $1.3 million and are using it to partner with the city so the location can be used by any county resident at no additional charges. This deal resolves two issues: where to put the county fair and where to provide an equestrian center for residents of southern Utah County communities.
Previously nonresidents had to pay higher fees to use the facilities in Spanish Fork.
In 1978, Utah County officials contributed $100,000 to the Spanish Fork fairgrounds so the county could use the facilities for 14 years rent free.
Ellertson said the fair moved to then-Utah Valley State College in 1998 because of a disagreement over use of the facilities. In 2001, the county fair contract went to Thanksgiving Point.
Fair attendance rose when Utah County officials moved the fair back to Spanish Fork this year. Officials said attendance was around 30,000, compared with an attendance of 23,000 when the fair was held at Thanksgiving Point in 2007.
City Councilman Rod Dart said many residents were excited and "thrilled to death" when the county fair returned to Spanish Fork.
"It's just the best place to have it," he said.