SALT LAKE CITY — Despite two rainy days and a temporary closure, Ted Lewis, the interim executive director of the Utah State Fairpark, said the numbers for the just-concluded Utah State Fair will be comparable to last year.
Attendance numbers and money made won't be available until later this week, but Lewis said Monday the fair was a success in terms of people having a good time and he is confident that the numbers will show that the fair is still viable.
"Our rodeo arena looked like a rice paddy," Lewis said. "I told the staff that if it rained one more day we would have to plant rice."
The Utah Legislature cut the appropriation to the Utah State Fairpark by 8.6 percent in 2011 and has deferred maintenance for years. The current lease at the Fairpark expires in 2017 and the Fairpark Corp. board of directors is hoping the Legislature will sign a new long-term lease so the corporation can continue to be the steward of the fair and events at the Fairpark throughout the year.
"I will be very, very surprised if they don't give the unanimous recommendation for the governor to enter into the lease," Lewis said of the State Fairpark Working Group, the group assigned by the Legislature to give a recommendation as to whether or not the governor should renew a long-term lease for the Fairpark.
The Legislature appointed the State Fairpark Working Group to assess the Fairpark's business plan on Sept. 11. The group will meet again on Oct. 8.
"We're probably resolved to make a favorable recommendation that we renew the lease and get on down the road with it," said Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, the group's chairman. "I believe that if we are going to continue on with it we need to invest in it."
But he also said there are no other investments from the state committed to the Fairpark at this time.
Lewis said part of the plan to make the Fairpark Corp. self-sustaining, as was its goal when the Legislature privatized the management of the Fairpark in 1998, is to increase the frequency and quality of the events throughout the year.Comment on this story
"Kem Gardner from the Days of '47 rodeo has said quite openly that the Days of '47 Rodeo would like to move to the Fairpark," Lewis said. "We are very excited with working out an arraignment with them and we would like to be their permanent home."
Lewis also hopes to solidify a deal with BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, an event that could draw 35,000 to 40,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to the Fairpark.
But several such potential arraignments are contingent on improvements to the facilities and a new lease.