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Huntsman likens 150th State Fair to 'Dynamite'

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks Thursday at the Fairpark where he cut a ribbon to officially open this year's sesquicentennial Utah State Fair. Huntsman said that the fair feeds the state economically and socially.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks Thursday at the Fairpark where he cut a ribbon to officially open this year's sesquicentennial Utah State Fair. Huntsman said that the fair feeds the state economically and socially.
Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

Utah is "getting our own tots" by having a top-notch fair that feeds the state economically and socially.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. cut the ribbon Thursday on the opening day of the 150th Utah State Fair and used fair mascot Napoleon Dynamite as a metaphor of the fair's benefits to the state.

"(It's the) 150th anniversary, and we've kind of based it around the theme of this really dweeby guy from Idaho," he said to a crowd of fairgoers and staff. Huntsman began describing a "great scene" from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," where Napoleon puts tater tots in his pocket, starts eating them during class and must protect his snack-size potatoes from a hungry classmate. "Somebody sitting next to him tries to steal a few of them and he hits his head and says 'Get your own tots!'. . .Well, we're getting our own tots by having a first-rate state fair, and we encourage people to come out here and get their own tots, just as Napoleon Dynamite would."

The fair campaign, created by Salt Lake ad agency BOWG, features Napoleon and his best friend Pedro promoting the fair through various Napoleon-esque activities and dialogue.

Utah's governor is among many state leaders and prominent residents who participate in the state fair. During the first fair in 1856, Mormon leader Brigham Young won $25 for "Best Stallion." He also won first prize for his celery exhibit.

The first state fair, The Deseret Fair, was nine years after the pioneers arrived in Utah in 1847.

The state fair has drastically changed from its early years to today. While vendors, national acts and rides dominate the modern fair, in its early years the fair did not have much of a carnival atmosphere.

"The fair might be called a college, where the people come together and hold an exchange of ideas, and see the best means of applying their resources," an October 1899 Deseret News article read. Utah's early residents relied on the annual exposition to learn new and better methods of farming and manufacturing.

The article spoke in length about floral displays ("the most beautiful"), fruit exhibits ("arranged in a most artistic manner"), vegetable exhibits ("that would start the appetite of kings and princes"), woman's department ("a marvel of beauty") and, of course, farm animals ("will be favorites of the vast hordes of people who will visit the fair").

During the 2005 State Fair, residents will compete in an unusual range of contests, most sponsored by big names. Some include: Keebler Kracker stacking, C & H Cookie baking, Meadow Gold Ice Cream sandwich eating, Odor-Eaters most rotten sneaker, Cook's Racing Pigs, Marie Callenders pie eating, Great Clips crazy Hair, Wendy's fast food relay race, Meadow Gold cow race family fun contest and GoldenPalace.com world grilled cheese eating contest.

For more information on the fair, visit utahstatefair.com.


E-mail: astowell@desnews.com