County fair searches for a new identity
This summer’s county fair may have more bikes and archers and fewer broncos and baked goods. To keep up with changing attitudes and a more diversified county, the Summit County Fair is taking a step back and trying to decide where to go next.
The Summit County Fair Board asked the Summit County Council last week to create a feasibility survey that would examine what the fair should do to attract more residents, including the possibility of relocating the event.
According to Dirk Rockhill, chair of the Summit County Fair Board, the fair is beginning to feel outdated and only attracts a portion of the county.
"It is like trying to still fit into a pair of pants you had when you were eight, and they looked good then, but now they just don’t really work anymore," Rockhill said.
County Council member Sally Elliott and Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt both agreed, saying while they support improvements being made to the fair, they would like to see it remain in Coalville. Schmidt said the fair is a vital part of the town’s fabric and something they rely on.
But Rockhill said that leaving the fair where it is may not be in the best interest of the county.
"The reason we want to bring in an outside consultant is so we can get all emotions out of the equation because I want it to stay in Coalville too," he said. "But people are beginning to think of the fair as a Coalville show. We want people from the Basin to come to the fair too. We need the whole county to come in order to keep the fair from dying."
According to Rockhill, the grandstand at the Coalville fairgrounds is too small, there is no room to keep livestock overnight and the restrooms are inadequate.
Fair Board Member Anita Lewis said that while it may not be worth it to build a new facility somewhere else in the county for only a five-day event, if property and an event center are available, it may be worth exploring.
The County Council voted unanimously to allow the board to pursue a feasibility study, saying it was a step in the right direction.
"The fair is often done on the fly each year, so it is a positive to see them putting together a plan," Elliott said.
Rockhill said the feasibility study will be able to tell the fair board what improvements should be made to attract more residents and how much money it may cost.
"We are trying to juggle new, popular, events like archery, with older events like the demolition derby," he said. "We want the fair to be able to evolve and we want it to be done in the best interest of the county. An outside point of view will tell us what is best for the whole county from a realistic standpoint."
The cost and details of the survey had not yet been decided by the board. The Summit County Fair will be held Aug. 4 to Aug. 11.
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