The Summit County Fair is full of rich traditions and has a fiercely loyal following. But attendance is shrinking and the event needs an infusion of new ideas to ensure it lasts well into the future.
The Summit County Fair celebrates the East Side's rich traditions with youth livestock shows, rodeos and home-arts exhibitions, quintessential activities that underscore Summit County's agricultural heritage. Unfortunately, that lifestyle is waning. Cattle ranchers and dairy farmers in Summit County have been closing up shop due to increasing costs and declining revenues. That, combined with rising property values, has made selling the land more attractive than selling milk and meat.
The challenge is to update the fair without extinguishing its authenticity and to attract new visitors without alienating its longtime participants.
That is the assignment recently handed over to Park Silly Sunday Market organizer Kimberly Kuehn and former Kimball Art Center membership director Travis English. The two have impressive track records when it comes to successful special events and we hope they can lend the same level of enthusiasm and organizational skills to the fair.
But they will need input from county residents hopefully from those who live on both the East and West sides. That is both the hurdle and the key to making future fairs successful.
The East Side, comprised of North and South Summit, has stayed close to its rural roots while the West Side, which includes Park City and the Snyderville Basin, has become more urbanized. Nevertheless, the communities are inextricably intertwined, socially and economically.
An updated and re-energized County Fair could help bridge that cultural divide between the East and West sides of Summit County. Also, by celebrating our common agricultural traditional, it might serve as a reminder of the importance of the environment and our Western heritage.