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5:39 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Yavapai Fair plans return to Prescott

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, file<br>
Hunter MacGregor finds a goat just his size to feed at the 2014 Yavapai Fair in Prescott Valley. This year’s fair would be the first in Prescott since 2001.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, file<br> Hunter MacGregor finds a goat just his size to feed at the 2014 Yavapai Fair in Prescott Valley. This year’s fair would be the first in Prescott since 2001.

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai Fair is coming back to Prescott.

Maybe.

An announcement on the Yavapai Fair's website says the 2015 fair will be presented Oct. 1-4, simultaneous with the 4-H/FFA Expo at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.

"We've been working with the fair for the past few years to bring it back to Prescott," said J.C. Trujillo, general manager for Prescott Frontier Days. "As far as the rodeo goes, we want the fair here."

In 2001, what was then called the Yavapai County Fair moved from the rodeo grounds to Prescott Valley. For 10 years, the fair was at Yavapai Downs, but when the horse racing track declared bankruptcy in 2011, it took the county fair with it as the fair's finances were intermingled with the track's books.

Management at Tim's Toyota Center, now Prescott Valley Event Center, stepped up to help put on the hastily organized "Un-Fair" in 2011.

Yavapai Fair Committee organized the same year and, for legal reasons, dropped the word "county" from the fair's name.

After four years at the Event Center, fair organizers say it's time to take the fair back to where it all started in 1913 in Prescott.

Board members of the Yavapai Fair Committee said they thought everything was ready to go, until March 6, when Prescott city officials learned of the plans and raised concerns.

"As far as I'm concerned, the fair needs to go back to the rodeo grounds," said Levi Darby, chairman of the fair board. "We thought it was a done deal, so now it's back to square one."

Darby said the concerns of the city involve electricity, vendors and the carnival.

In response to The Daily Courier's request for comments from Prescott city officials, Catherine Sebold, communications and public affairs manager for the city, wrote in an email: "In answer to your questions from yesterday, this is our statement: Initial discussions are underway."

Pressed for clarification whether the city supports or opposes the fair returning to Prescott, Sebold responded, "As stated before, initial discussions are underway."

Trujillo explained Prescott Frontier Days leases the largest piece of the rodeo grounds property, including the parking lots, arena, ticket sales area, one of the barns and part of the Mackin Building.

A lot of the remaining space needed for the fair and 4-H/FFA Expo is leased by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension of Yavapai County.

"We've always let the 4-H use the whole rodeo grounds for the expo," Trujillo said.

But the city still controls a handful of areas.

"The main issue was the carnival," Trujillo said.

Trujillo, Darby and city personnel will meet Tuesday, March 17, to look over the fair committee's plans.

"It should be a great event," Trujillo said. "We're looking forward to seeing it come back here."

Darby said combining with the 4-H/FFA Expo should mean the fair has more livestock entries, an event category that had dwindled in recent years.

He said the Yavapai Fair will take advantage of the rodeo arena with roping and riding contests.

"This is not going to be just a fair," Darby said. "It's going to be a local rodeo."

Town of Prescott Valley officials said Friday they were unaware of plans for the fair to leave their community.

"The Town of Prescott Valley has had no direct conversation with the Yavapai Fair board about moving the event," Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said. "If the report is true, we regret seeing it leave our downtown."

Fair organizers welcome comments and questions by email to yavapaifair@gmail.com. For more information about the Yavapai Fair, visit yavapaifair.com.

Follow reporter Les Bowen on Twitter @NewsyLesBowen