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COME EARLY OR PAY THE UN`FAIR’ PRICE

SHARE COME EARLY OR PAY THE UN`FAIR’ PRICE

A hint to state fairgoers: Show up early or pay the price.

Limited parking at the Utah State Fair has forced many to seek alternative parking on the lawns of neighboring houses, often at a higher price.Assistant Fair Director Donna Dahl said that although fair officials increased parking charges from $2 to $3 to cover overhead costs of the fair, some homeowners renting space on their property charge up to $10 a slot.

"We try to cover costs wherever we can," she said. "We think that is fair and is what most people can handle. Some people across the street are charging $10, so we don't feel so bad."

Dahl said the facilities at the State Fair can accommodate about 600 cars. The soccer field, north of the Fairpark's asphalt parking lot, can squeeze in about 700 vehicles, she said.

"We always fill up a good share of the soccer field," she said.

According to fair administrators, the fair attracted more than 70,000 people last weekend. With only 1,100 slots for parking available on the fairgrounds, many seek other parking arrangements near the Fairpark entrance.

But this is not an inconvenience for homeowners across the street, who can earn more than $50 per day selling lawn space for parking.

In fact, many look forward to the fair as way to earn a little extra cash, said Sharal Harper, who charges $2 - a dollar less than the fair - to park inside her fenced yard across the street from the east Fairpark entrance.

"I've earned about $50 a day letting people park on my lawn," she said as she stood in the street waving cars into her yard with a fluorescent orange flag. "But business hasn't been as good this year, though. It has been about average. Many people have said they would rather park in my yard with me here watching the cars than inside that big parking lot."

Fourteen-year-old Jennifer Kenney also stood in the street with a flag, attempting to lure drivers into her driveway around the corner from Harper's house. Kenney said she earned more than $100 last weekend letting people park on her lawn.

Even businesses capitalize on the parking shortage at the fair.

McDonald's at 1000 West and North Temple has an "honor" parking lot.

"Use just the first 17 stalls and pay inside of McDonald's," reads the sign outside the lot behind the fast-food franchise. But, it adds in bolder print, unpaid vehicles will be towed immediately.

Kevin Orton, 18, at Brighton Bank, charges $3 during the day when other lots are empty. But when the fairground lot is full, he hikes the price to $5.

"That is just what my boss told me to do. We want to make more money, I guess," Orton said.

A sliding price scale isn't unusual, Harper said.

"People would pay $10 to park on your lawn if other lots are full," she said.

In the past, Harper said parking on her property has been discouraged by fair officials.

"They have been mean before and have ticketed cars on our lawns. They also said they were going to stop letting us do this."

But fair officials aren't upset the neighbors are stealing their parking dollars. As a matter of fact, Dahl said, they encourage it.

"We can't handle them all, and we think it's great they can make a few bucks," she said.