A 60-year community tradition has been ended by Tooele County’s budget crisis.
The Tooele County Fair Board voted unanimously last night to cancel the 2013 Tooele County Fair.
“The board felt that in light of the county’s budget problems, which led to the layoff of employees who played an important role in the fair, it would not be appropriate or possible to hold a fair this year,” said Mark McKendrick, fair board chairman and the county’s director of parks and recreation.
While McKendrick and the county commissioners are on the 25-member fair board, it was the board’s volunteer members who advanced the idea of canceling the fair, he said.
Although the fair has been canceled, some elements of the event will continue. The fair has been held at Deseret Peak Complex since the facility opened in 1999.
The Tooele County Junior Livestock show will be held as usual on the first weekend in August at Deseret Peak.
Also, Utah State University Extension representatives say they will hold 4-H exhibits; however, the date and location for the exhibits, which will be open for youth and adult entries, has not been determined.
The fair board recognized that the junior livestock show and 4-H exhibits are about youth in our community, and they wanted to continue to provide support for our youth, McKendrick said.
The parks and recreation director added Tooele County Search and Rescue members will decide soon if they’ll proceed with their annual demolition derby at Deseret Peak.
The derby is traditionally held on the same weekend as the fair and attracts large crowds.
But gone for this summer will be other events that were part of the fair, such as entertainment, vendor booths, car shows, horse shows, competitions, sports events, and food booths.
“Even with the livestock show, 4-H exhibits, and the possibility of the demolition derby, the fair board felt that the elements that make a fair would no longer be present, so they decided not to call what was happening a fair,” said McKendrick.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo that was held in conjunction with the 2012 fair had already been canceled due to expenses, he added. Plans were made to hold an amateur rodeo at this year’s fair, but those plans have also been canceled.
The 2012 fair cost $192,000 to put on, not including staff time, and brought in $141,000 in revenue. The county had to pay the $51,000 difference for the 3-day event.
The fair board will re-evaluate the situation again next year before determining the status of the 2014 Tooele County Fair.
“It’s heartbreaking to have to cancel the fair,” said McKendrick. “I’ve been personally involved in the fair for a long time. This whole thing, layoffs and restructuring, has been very heartbreaking.”