Audit of Utah State Fair indicates low attendance, high subsidy costs

SALT LAKE CITY – A new audit reveals the Utah State Fair is seeing low attendance and high costs.

The state has hired consultants to look at whether the fair should be moved or made over into something more modern.

The fair approached the Utah legislature this year about securing more money due to operational costs, and since 1995 the state has spent nearly $7 million to subsidize the state fair. Auditors compared Utah’s costs and fair attendance to fairs in states like Arizona, Idaho and New Mexico—and they found Utah has lower attendance but takes more subsidies.

Fair Executive Director Michael Steele said the report doesn’t make a fair comparison, as fairs in other states have additional avenues for boosting income.

“Several of those fairs have on-site gambling,” he said.

State engineers have recently condemned three livestock barns, and officials are working to renovate the buildings in time for the 2014 fair. Other improvements have been proposed.

FOX 13 News’ Gene Kennedy took a closer look at the fair and the audit, see the video above for his report.