SALT LAKE CITY — Although the Utah State Fair enjoyed one of its most successful runs in history last year, managers say the Fairpark is far from reaching its potential.
An annual audit of the Utah State Fair Corp. released Tuesday found income and assets increased over the previous year due to a "stellar" fair and other new events at the Fairpark. The park has struggled financially in the past and still needs to tackle deferred maintenance.
Fair attendance was 283,462, an increase of 10 percent from the year before. Food and beverage gross revenue was $2.2 million, or a 31 percent increase over 2017.
Assets increased by $2.3 million during the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, bringing the total to $3.4 million, according to the Utah State Auditor's Office. Cash increased $1.6 million due to new events and a $1.3 million infusion from the state to help offset some of the costs of the new rodeo arena, which will be used to carry the corporation through the 2019 fair.
The Utah Legislature in 2016 gave the fair corporation the exclusive rights to manage the land and buildings at the Fairpark without a lease. The state owns the land and the buildings.
The corporation generated 74 percent of its own revenue and the Legislature provided 26 percent of the revenue last year, according to the audit.
More entertainment acts for the arena that opened in 2017, both for the fair and other events, account for some of the increased revenue.
Fairpark managers say that with some slight changes to event programming along with forming partnerships with various organizations, they should be able to boost weekday attendance numbers and revenue.
This past session, the Legislature appropriated $300,000 to build an Olympic-grade skateboard park at the fairgrounds. Skateboarding will become an Olympic sport in 2020, and the Fairpark hopes to attract competitive trials.