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County fair officials change events to attract more visitors
Fewer vendors, more animals should entice

PROVO -- No one can say fair director Marilyn Toone, in her second year in the role of overseeing the Utah County Fair, isn't paying attention to those who complained about the 1998 county fair.

Those who didn't like the way things were done last year will see some changes in this year's fair, planned for Aug. 13, 14, again in Orem at the McKay Special Events Center."We'll have animals, even big ones," said Toone. "That was a big thing last year. People really missed the animals."

Toone said officials at Utah Valley State College who operate the McKay Special Events Center originally felt the facility could not accommodate large animals on display.

"I think when they saw how very popular the petting zoo was, they took another look at it. They're going to allow us to have a exhibition event, not a competition, but we'll have cows, horses and hogs on display," said Toone.

The Utah Valley Kennel Club will also host a showing for dogs.

Pat Brothwell will exhibit her Peruvian Peso and Rocky Mountain specialty horses.

In addition, Toone said there will be fewer commercial vendors and everyone will be located on the main floor of the center rather than separating the boutiques from the exhibit floor.

"I just thought we had too many vendors," Toone said. "That kind of overwhelmed everything else."

Several commercial vendors asked for refunds following last year's fair after they rented booth space and saw little foot traffic on the upper floor of the center.

Many food vendors complained because they were left with perishable supplies that were bought based on numbers of fair visitors that did not materialize.

There will be food available this year with vendors working through the McKay Center staff to coordinate supplies and sales.

There will not be a carnival but there will be attractions and activities for children including a water-fight experience and the Orem Fire Department's safety trailer.

A climbing wall will be available and martial arts demonstrations scheduled.

New and known talent will be performing on the indoor and outdoor stages and the Farm Bureau Talent Find will return.

The Miss Utah County Pageant is slated to occur on Thursday evening, Aug. 12, and the new queen will then reign over the fair activities.

Fair booklets are redesigned and much easier to read, Toone said. "They're at the printers now and will be available to the county administration building, city centers, libraries and possibly craft stores."

Those interested in showing off their talents, goods, crafts or produce should plan on the fair committee finding an appropriate place for their items.

"We'll help," Toone said. "No longer will somebody have to try to find a category for what they'd like to share. Bring it to us and we'll find a category."

Toone said fair organizers are excited about the changes and hope to see a boost in fair attendance for the annual county event.

"We're hoping by improving our methods of letting people know, we'll see an increase in attendance," she said.

Last year's count stood between 6,000 and 8,000 fairgoers in the first year the fair had not been held at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds.