Summit County Fairgrounds to be overhauled
Summit County’s historic fair may never look the same again. The facilities for the annual event, which has been held in the same location for more than 50 years, are scheduled for an upgrade.
According to officials, the Summit County Fair could be temporarily moved next year while the fairgrounds are under construction and when it returns, it will have a new configuration.
Thousands of people have flocked to the Summit County fairgrounds over the last several years and it has become increasingly obvious that the site can no longer sustain the event. County leaders had considered moving the fair outside of Coalville because of the limited space to host the weeklong series of events at the 18-acre site. But, instead, recently purchased nearly 12 acres of land adjacent to the current fairgrounds. The county closed on the purchases in July.
Last week, Summit County officials and representatives with Landmark Design, a firm the county has hired to develop the master plan for the grounds, gave fairgoers a glimpse of the possibilities. The public was presented with four alternative designs, two of which maintain the current locations of the rodeo and warm-up arenas.
The four options presented by Landmark Design were the result of conversations between various community stakeholders, including Coalville City, North Summit Recreation District and North Summit School District.
Hugh Holt, a landscape architect with Landmark Design, said public reactions to the designs included “a little bit of everything.” Holt and other representatives with Landmark Design were at the fair on Friday, Aug. 12, and Saturday, Aug. 13.
“Some liked it and some didn’t and some were happy that it wasn’t moving,” Holt said. “I think we heard a little bit of everything and the only thing that was consistent is that they are glad the county is doing something about it.”
Landmark Design is compiling the comments and will decide on a direction based on the feedback sometime this week, Holt said. He said they hope to have a semi-final master plan to present to the Summit County Council by the end of September.
“We are going to take some good points and eliminate some bad points and come up with another composite alternative that best meets the needs of the county and everyone else,” Holt said.
The public will likely have an opportunity to comment on the final design during one of the council meetings. Officials have said they would like to begin construction in the spring of 2017.
The upgrades are being funded through the county’s Transient Room Tax, which currently has a reserve of approximately $6.5 million. However, that entire amount is not earmarked for this project. The Transient Room Tax fund also pays for the county’s historical department and other activities, according to Matt Jensen, project lead for Summit County.
While the fairgrounds are under construction, the event will potentially be temporarily relocated. Travis English, Summit County fair coordinator, said officials are considering several cities on the East Side of the county to host the fair, including Oakley, Kamas and Henefer.
“We have gone and toured a bunch of fairgrounds across the state and they, specifically Price County Fair organizers, told us not to host a fair in a construction zone so we have taken their advice and will be hosting it somewhere within Summit County next year,” English said. “Either we don’t host a fair because we have been told of the challenges or we host it somewhere else and hope people understand.”
“From what I hear, people are generally excited about the updates,” English said. “We definitely run into issues with water and power and the infrastructure that is there when you put a large carnival and that many vendors in that space so it will be nice to update everything.”
Gale Pace, who lives in Coalville and has been a vocal advocate for keeping the fair there, said he supports the direction the county is heading with the new design, adding that “a lot of it is really good.”
“Everyone is, I think, now going to go be on the same page and, honestly, I think things will work out well,” Pace said. “My personal opinion is I don’t think it is a good idea to temporarily move it because I don’t think you would get the same crowds. But it might have to be that is the way it is and, so be it, if it is for the good of the county.”
For more information about the four alternative options for the new fairgrounds, go to https://www.summitcounty.org/802/Summit-County-Fairgrounds-Master-Plan. To comment on the designs, contact Mark Vlasic or Jenny Hale with Landmark Design at 801-474-3300 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.