Originally Published: August 24, 2011 10:40 a.m.
Plans are moving ahead this week for the "Un-Fair," the alternative to people in Yavapai County missing out on their annual fair for the first time since WWII.
The decision to cancel the Yavapai County Fair came after the Yavapai County Farm & Agriculture Association filed for bankruptcy on July 13.
The Un-Fair event, so named because it will be different from the annual event, will take place during the same time the county fair was scheduled, with the carnival opening Thursday, Sept. 29, and the Un-Fair taking place on Sept. 30, and Oct. 1 and 2.
The fair has taken place at the Yavapai Downs and adjacent property since it moved to Prescott Valley in 2001. But the bankruptcy trustee would not allow the fair to operate there while it's in receivership, fair officials said, which resulted in hundreds of disappointed 4-H and other youth exhibitors.
The Un-Fair will take place at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, and will include as much of the regular fair as organizers can put together by opening day, said Tim's General Manager Gary Spiker on Monday.
Spiker said fair officials, superintendents and volunteers have been meeting in an unofficial capacity for the past two weeks to make the decisions that will allow individual departments to function. He said organizers also have meetings scheduled with the town and Parks & Rec officials to talk about where to place outside attractions. He said it appears right now that all the departments will be able to function, with some creative solutions for youth showing larger livestock.
The Un-Fair will pen animals such as rabbits, fowl, goats, sheep, pigs and cows inside the arena, Spiker said. Youth exhibitors may have to trailer their large livestock in for judging and then remove them afterwards, he said.
Mary Johnson, who is coordinating the departments with superintendents, said the Un-Fair primarily is focusing on the youth, especially in the animal departments.
"We will have all the departments where superintendents are available," she said. "We won't be having a horse show this year, and we won't have open cattle and large dairy cattle for adults. But we will have the youth departments," she said.
Adults and youth will be able to enter the poultry and pigeon, rabbit and cavy departments, although superintendents will limit the number of entries so the public will be able to view a large variety of colors and breeds.
Regular departments such as Photography, Fine Arts, School and Homemaking Arts exhibits will have spaces on the second floor of the center.
While the Un-Fair will not be giving out premiums this year, they will be handing out ribbons to winners, and there will be no cost to enter, Johnson said.
The Un-Fair next week will release information about entry requirements and deadlines to county newspapers and publications, and by Friday, August 26, entry forms and information will be available on the Tim's Toyota Center website at www.timstoyotacenter.com under Events.
The carnival and vendors, along with pony and train rides, horseshoes, and some of the entertainment, will take place outside. And for those who look forward to "fair food" each year, plenty of curly fries, corn dogs and cotton candy is on its way.
"We have 10 food vendors already signed up," Spiker said. "The carnival is set, and we're working on entertainment."
He said the Un-Fair is looking for local entertainment, such as cloggers, dancers and bands, that would like to donate their performances to the event.
Spiker said he is pleased with the public's excitement and willingness to contribute to the Un-Fair.
"There's real good preliminary work, and real excitement about it," he said.
Johnson agreed. "People are very happy. I'm having a real good response and getting lots of people calling to volunteer. It just seems people are pulling together. They are happy that the kids are going to have a fair. So many of them look forward to it."
Local businesses and organizations also have stepped up to offer any help they can to the Un-Fair. It's still unclear whether the Un-Fair will be able to get money from the state to pay for the operation this year (see accompanying story).
The Un-Fair committee invites anyone who wants to help or donate to the effort to call Mary Johnson at 928-636-0535, Phil Bybee at 928-632-7151 or 928-899-2345, or Tim's Toyota Center at 928-583-6075 (leave a message).