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Fair’s future still in doubt

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Heavy on the gravity of the situation but light on details, the executive director of the Utah State Fairpark told legislative appropriators Tuesday that even after a pretty good turnout this year, having a fair in 2004 is still in doubt without more money.

Donna Dahl didn't say how much more or if another fair is definitely off without it, but she told the Joint Executive Appropriations Committee she can't begin planning the fair or sign the usual contracts that must be entered into by December without supplemental funding.

Dahl had earlier asked for a $700,000 supplemental appropriation to offset losses from the two previous years and shore up the fair that closed Sunday.

"Despite a day and a half of rain, we had a good fair, but we're still in the same position we were before and still need that money," she said, noting that actual attendance and revenue figures for 2003 won't be known for a few weeks. "We would hope that going into any special session that the request could be considered."

Lawmakers took no action. But on further questioning, Dahl said she would need at least $220,000 to pay for contracts already let. Some of those contracts were entered on good faith that the funding would be forthcoming, she said.

"Are you saying that if you don't get supplemental funding, there won't a fair next year?" asked Sen. Ron Allen, D-Salt Lake.

"I can't plan without it," she said.

The Legislature gave the Fairpark $443,300 this past session. Fair officials are projecting at least an $803,000 loss in the Fairpark's budget this year.

E-mail: jthalman@desnews.com