The county hired a firm, Populous, to conduct a feasibility study on whether the current location in Coalville will continue to meet the county's growing needs.
"First they need to look at our current facility and see if it will work into the future," Summit County Assistant Manager Anita Lewis said during the County Council's Monday work session. "I've heard from residents saying, 'You already have a facility. If you just buy property around it, or build some new buildings, it can accommodate.' So we've hired this firm to look at this facility to say, can it or can't it?"
Dave Ure said he preferred talking about new locations for the fairground instead of continuing to analyze the current facility.
"I'm at the point right now that if we're just considering the place in Coalville as the only location, my vote is, pull up your bags and go home because that's not my intent. I want something for the entire county," he told the firm.
Councilmember Sally Elliott concurred. "I think we all know that what we have right now is not sufficient for the future, so why bother to talk about it?"
Elliott suggested they instead talk about where they need to go, what they need and what they should be looking at in the future.
Fair Board Member Dirk Rockhill acknowledged that the current location is not working but compared the situation to getting a new car.
"You have to look at your old car first and think, is this worth fixing, or is it time to replace it?" he said.
Populous Senior Architect Charlie Smith said the firm would not make the decision for the County Council but will be presenting facts based on their fairground studies and other fairgrounds they've worked on across the country.
"We have North American Fairgrounds Planning Standards, where we compare you to similar-sized communities in population and see how you stack up," he said. "After doing 250 of these, there are a lot of similarities but no rubber stamps. This will be very much tailored to your community and to your fair."
Smith asked the Fair Board if they used the facilities on a year-round basis, as the trend today is for year-round multi-purpose usage, he said. Rockhill responded that they don't but that while they would like to use the fairgrounds primarily for the fair, they would also like to be able to use it for other activities.
"We're hoping to have a facility that accommodates everything from the softball tournament we have every summer to an awards dinner for volunteers, something that is all-inclusive and year-round," Rockhill answered. "There's nowhere in Coalville to hold that dinner. It's not big enough."
Rockwell said the biggest issue for the fairgrounds, however, is where it will be located. He said he believed the existing facility could be modified to meet their needs.
Elliott countered that a fairground in Coalville serves a very small population. She said she would like to see them be open to a location that is more central to the larger population of the county and more open to considering emerging needs.
"There are huge needs all around the county for other kinds of facilities than the traditional flower-arrangement-table-setting-old-school thinking that the county fair has come to embody," she said. "That is passé and totally out of date, and not something I'm willing to support."
The County Council will hold another discussion with Populous during their 10 a.m. work session on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the Sheldon Richins Building, located at 1885 West Ute Boulevard.