Utah State Fair in its last day after record-breaking attendance

Posted at 10:06 PM, Sep 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- Sunday is the final day of the Utah State Fair, and this year’s turnout was one for the record books.

Organizers said a number of factors contributed to last year’s weak attendance numbers. Nine days of bad weather certainly played a role, but this year has been nothing like last.

“Staff is a little tired, but it’s been a great turnout, great support from our community and vendors,” said Michael Steele, who is the fair’s Executive Director. “It’s been a great fair this year with great weather as well.”

Weather worked in the Utah State Fair’s favor this year, allowing record numbers to come out and enjoy the food and fun. The cooperative conditions come with good timing, considering there’s some pressure on the fair to perform.

“This was a very important year for the fair,” Steele said. “We’ve been put in a position where we need to decide, do we keep the fair here? Does it go away? What kind of investment is going to be put into this fair park? So yea, it’s very important that it was a good year.”

A fan favorite this year was the new birthing exhibit, which was less about birthing and more about seeing baby farm animals. Even after the poor turnout of 2013, legislators gave the fair park more than $2 million to rebuild condemned barns.

“We just wanted the kids to get to see that animals, that’s the biggest reason,” said Herriman resident Derek Boldt.

Saturday night, the fair saw record numbers in attendance and officials tweeted Sunday morning they were on pace to surpass that record, which is good news for Steele to bring back to legislators as they discuss the fate of the fair park.

“We’ve already started reaching out to a few events to try to book,” Steele said. “We are going to see the legislative interim committee on Thursday to give reports of what you’re asking of, how we did, how things look, so they can understand what happened with Real [Salt Lake] and where their proposal with them is going.”

The owner of RSL has proposed building a soccer stadium at the fair park for RSL’s minor league team, and he says the project would be a win-win for his team and the community. He believes the stadium would help the fair park overcome a recent run of financial difficulties. Click here for details.

Plans for next year’s fair are already in the works.