Tooele County fair canceled due to budget cuts, layoffs

Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-27 21:43:27-04

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah – It’s been an annual tradition in Tooele County for more than 60 years, until now.

The Tooele County Fair Board voted unanimously on Monday to cancel the 2013 fair, citing budget concerns as the primary reason.

“This is not something that anybody wanted to do,” Tooele County Spokesperson Wade Mathews said. “It was a very intense discussion—a very long debate, and it involved all of the people on the board, including volunteers and citizens.”

Three events associated with the fair are still scheduled to go on. The Junior Livestock show will happen the first weekend in August. Youth currently working on 4-H exhibits will still be able to display them. And Mathews said the Tooele County Sheriff’s office has yet to make a decision on the annual Search and Rescue Demolition Derby.

“The livestock show and the 4-H exhibits are youth oriented, and we want the youth to still have those programs and those experiences,” Mathews said.

Another major reason for cancelling the events deals with another cut made by county commissioners a few weeks earlier: 23 employees of the county-owned Deseret Peak Complex were laid off. Deseret Peak has been the home of the fair since the complex was opened.  Without that staff, Mathews said it would have been impossible to pull off the large-scale production.

“They were valuable, invaluable in helping put on that county fair,” Mathews said. “So that was another factor in why we had to cancel the fair this year.”

Tooele County residents said it’s a low-blow when morale in the county is already down.

“They just basically said to everybody, ‘well we don’t have it,’” Grantsville resident Denise Anderson said.  “’We’re not going to look at anything else, so we’ll just cancel Christmas and you can just move on with your life.’”

The fair board will re-evaluate the situation next year to determine if things have improved enough to put the fair on a 2014 budget,