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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Fair is over and already being called a success despite being slammed earlier this year for questionable practices. Lawmakers are discussing the future of the fair, which is still at risk.
The fair wrapped up Sunday night and the vendors are packing up and moving out their stuff Monday and executive Director Michael Steele said officials are already working on next year's fair. The fair was under close scrutiny after several audits slammed Utah State Fair Corp. practices earlier this year.
The state fair almost didn't happen due to lack of money. Steele appeared before a committee in February to ask for $750,000 to keep the fair going but said it was a "one-time" request. A state audit in March gave a scathing review of the Utah State Fair Corp., citing lack of attendance and "significant overspending."
“Utah State Fair is the most under-attended and highly subsidized state fair among comparable intermountain states,” performance audit director David Pulsipher said.
Utah State Fairpark is also in need of major repairs but there are currently no available options to update buildings or move locations.
Officials are tallying up the final attendance and revenue numbers for this year's fair and Steele will report those to a legislative committee on Thursday.
“(We'll give) an update on how we did and what is going on; they are interested in a possible real estate deal with the soccer team and how that will affect business,” Steele said. “They want to know our future plans and get a status report.”
All the vendors all did well, the agriculture folks are planning how to make next year even better and negotiations are underway with new shows, Steele added.
“We’ll have some good news for them,” he said. “We did what we said we would do. It was a great fair.”
Lawmakers are still discussing the future of these fairgrounds. Fair officials will start working on the rodeo grounds and negotiating with Real Salt Lake Soccer executives about the future of their partnership together.
The cost to keep the fair running is about $33 million, according to the state.