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Sat, Jan. 18

'Un-Fair' offers hope after bad news

People in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley - and all of Yavapai County, for that matter - are notorious for looking at a challenge square in the eye when the chips are down.

Since May, news coming from the Yavapai County Fairgrounds has been disheartening and disappointing.

First, Yavapai Downs shut down - no money to run the racetrack this summer came word from the Yavapai County Farm & Agriculture Association in May.

Then, the association filed for bankruptcy. That left the county fair in limbo because the fair takes place at Yavapai Downs and adjoining county property. As might have been expected, a bankruptcy trustee won't allow the fair to set up there this year because the Downs and grounds are in receivership.

The news headline on Aug. 3 read "Yavapai County Fair canceled." The die was cast - or was it?

Indeed not. A group of people with abounding community spirit put their heads together this past Thursday evening and came up with a plan to pick up pieces before they had fallen too far.

The group includes Bill and Brad Fain and Lew Rees of the Fain Signature Group, Yavapai Fair Committee member Phil Bybee and Tim's Toyota Center general manager Gary Spiker.

Because these businessmen decided 2011 without a fair would be "unfair," they have dubbed the event the "County Un-Fair," and it will take place at Tim's Toyota Center during the same time the county fair was scheduled, with the carnival opening on Sept. 29 and the Un-Fair running Sept. 30-Oct. 2. The Un-Fair will help raise money so that next year's fair and those of the future can return to their home at the fairgrounds.

An important point organizers of the Un-Fair have made is that the Un-Fair is for all the residents of Yavapai County to enjoy. It might be a scaled-down version of past fairs, but it will offer much of decades-old favorite attractions: the carnival, exhibits of handmade food and crafts and one of the best-loved highlights, 4-H exhibitors. Most of the food vendors have agreed to participate in the Un-Fair, and they have chosen their theme for this year, "community unity."

Volunteers are already jumping on the bandwagon to make the Un-Fair a success. You can, too, by calling Yavapai Fair Committee member Mary Johnson at 928-636-0535, Phil Bybee at 928-632-7151 or Tim's Toyota Center at 928-583-6075.

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