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Utah State Fair plans to move forward with modifications

Posted at 9:07 PM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 23:13:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Organizers are moving forward with plans to stage a modified Utah State Fair.

A legislative committee voted Friday to allow the event to proceed from Sept. 10-20 as the state continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

Some of the safety modifications include limiting attendance to 6,000 guests per day, having a limited number of attractions and reducing the number of vendors.

Guests will also be encouraged to use electronic payment to purchase tickets and food. People will be able to order food through a smartphone app to avoid standing in lines.

“The main Fairpark body is 68 acres,” said Larry Mullenax, the executive director of the Utah State Fairpark. “Social distancing was built into the core design of the facility.”

Mullenax told the committee the demand to participate in the 2020 event is higher than ever since many small businesses have struggled to earn income amid shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

“The number of applicants that would like to have commercial booths and food booths at the fair is actually ahead of last year. We are turning people away,” Mullenax said. “Many of these have not made any money this entire year.”

The Fairpark itself has also struggled. Mullenax showed the committee a chart listing more than a dozen event cancellations that were scheduled to be held at the venue in 2020. The loss of those events represents a loss of more than $1 million in revenue for the nonprofit.

“2020 was scheduled to be a phenomenal year for the Fairpark,” Mullenax said. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t try to push forward with an event that would help us secure some revenue to help pay bills.”

Some popular events like roving entertainment on the fairgrounds, concerts and an ice cream social will not be held.

A rodeo and monster truck event are scheduled to take place.

Mullenax stressed the importance of this event in the community.

Aside from bringing back some sense of normalcy, the fair will offer an opportunity for youths who raise livestock during the year in 4-H programs to show off their work.

“Money is not everything in this decision,” Mullenax said. “It’s really about trying to support our local artists and our junior livestock show.”

If Utah’s coronavirus statistics improve in the days leading up to the fair, attendance may be increased to up to 15,000 people per day.

However, if the situation worsens, the fair could be scaled back to only offer a junior livestock show.

The entire safety plan for the 2020 Utah State Fair can be found here.