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Festival Days must move or get smaller, county says

PROVO — Festival Days must move or get smaller, Utah County commissioners have decreed.

The annual event on the grounds of the Historic Utah County Courthouse attracts more than 80,000 people and is part of America's Freedom Festival at Provo.

After this year's Fourth of July weekend event, Utah County's expenses were more than $11,000, including the cost of damage to landscaping and the time county employees spent helping the festival organizers set up and clean up. And commissioners decided that was too much.

"We're just not doing that again," said Commissioner Jerry Grover. "If it's going to be the same size as this year, we just won't be able to accommodate it. We thought it would be prudent to tell them now, in writing, way in advance."

He said the county would be willing to help the festival find another location or sponsor another event.

Taylor MacDonald, executive director of America's Freedom Festival at Provo, said, "We've known there were some concerns from the county commission about Festival Days for some time.

"We're anxious to work with them, if it's possible to continue the event," he said. "There are few, if any, other venues for it."

He said it might be possible to scale it down.

Grover said the county's contract with the festival requires the county to calculate damages and costs, and the festival is supposed to offset them. In past years, the two sides did a reconciliation, and that hasn't happened yet.

"In the sponsorship, we agree to pay a certain amount," he said.

Festival planners usually start planning the event during the fall, MacDonald said.

"We've already done some planning, in terms of reviewing what happened this year, in terms of the kinds of booths and vendors that were there and the future direction we may want to go," he said.

After last year's event, the county limited events to 30 percent of the grounds and lasting no more than 84 hours. The Festival Days event this year used about 85 percent of the area.