Fair, not immune to economic downturn, cuts annual concert

EVANSTON — As counties have to stretch thin mill levies ever further, more organizations are facing steep budget cuts, including the Uinta County Fair. This year, the fair has cut fair book printing and has replaced the kick-off concert as well. 

“This year, it was either financially we had to lose something, or lose employees,” fair manager Ami Barker said.

Instead of the concert (which has historically brought in big-name artists such as Travis Tritt, Sawyer Brown and Chris LeDoux), Barker said, the Evanston FFA chapter will put on a big-screen movie in the arena. The movie will be free to the public, and the FFA will sell concessions to raise money for their barn. 

The concert has been cut mostly because of costs. 

“It’s never been a moneymaker for the county; we’ve always lost money,” Barker said. “We spend upwards of $70,000 on it, and if we bring back in $25,000, we consider it a good year.”

She said the county generally considers it a service or gift to the community, but with fewer funds to go around, the county cannot afford that this year. 

“That’s always known as the kick-off to fair, so I’m hopeful that that ... [doesn’t lead to] people not attending the following week of fair because we don’t have the concert,” Barker said. 

Fair books have also not been printed this year, bringing Uinta County in line with most fairs across the state. This year’s book is available online at uintacountyfair.org. Barker said that the Uinta County Fair has had online registration for six years, but the fair book has shown up in people’s mailboxes up until this year. 

“We actually were one of the last three counties in Wyoming that had a printed fair book,” Barker said. 

However, those who still prefer the paper version can print out the book on their own, section by section. Those who need help can contact the fair office by calling (307) 789-6312.

Printed copies of the Herald’s annual county fair section, with details and summaries of activities — along with a full schedule of events — will be available at the fairgrounds.

When asked whether she thinks it will impact registration, Barker said she thinks the biggest impact has been that fewer people are making handmade crafts, so fewer people have items to show.

“Really, the only place that I see it really being a drawback is it’s not physically in the public’s eye,” Barker said. 

The Uinta County Fair does have some positives this year, though. For one, it’s not competing with Bridger Valley’s ranch rodeo, which will run on Monday, July 24. Barker said that the two events often happen the same weekend. She also pointed out that the rest of the week will feature the regular fun events, including the always-popular pig wrestling/calcutta and arena cross. Some old favorite performers are also returning, including Pippi the Clown and the water walkers. 

Keep an eye on future issues of the Herald for details about all the events and performers coming to light up fair week.


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