Originally Published: September 11, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Come Oct. 1, the county fair will return to the spot that Prescott officials say is its rightful location.
After unanimous approval by the Prescott City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Yavapai Fair is set to return to its long-time location at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds in central Prescott.
"It's nice to see the county fair back where it belongs," Prescott City Councilman Charlie Arnold said before the vote on the fair's use of the city-owned Prescott Rodeo Grounds.
Mayor Marlin Kuykendall added that as the Yavapai County seat, Prescott is the logical location for the fair. "Normally, a county fair is held in the county seat," he said.
For nearly a decade and a half, the fair has taken place outside of Prescott. In 2001, what was then called the Yavapai County Fair moved from the rodeo grounds to Prescott Valley. For 10 years, the fair took place at Yavapai Downs off Highway 89A in Prescott Valley, but later moved to the Prescott Valley Event Center.
Along the way, the Yavapai County Fair changed its name to the Yavapai Fair - a move that Yavapai Fair Foundation Chairman Rosie Darby said was taken because of the ongoing bankruptcy at Yavapai Downs.
The 2015 fair - scheduled for Oct. 1 to 4 - will include nightly events in the arena, as well as a full range of exhibits, and a carnival.
Darby told the council that organizers aim to bring an agricultural emphasis back to this year's fair. Although the fair will include a carnival, Darby said that will not be its main focus. "The county fair is not about a carnival," she said. "This will be truly a county fair."
After the meeting, Darby said that the rodeo grounds location would allow for a full range of livestock exhibits, as well as flowers, vegetables and art.
For the past several years, she said, the fair had been limited in its animal exhibits because of the venue at the Prescott Valley Event Center. "We did have animals, but it was very limited," she said.
Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes told the council that the city's special-events committee had thoroughly reviewed the fair's proposal - especially on parking and liability-insurance coverage. Through that review, he said, the city and fair had "overcome those obstacles."
While overflow parking was initially planned at Prescott High School, Baynes said a conflict arose with a band competition at the high school on the same weekend.
As an alternative, the city will provide overflow parking at Pioneer Park off Commerce Drive in northeast Prescott. Baynes said a shuttle would be on hand for transportation to the fair.
Although Pioneer Park is not as close as the high school, Baynes said the city was looking to "cover all the bases." While the July 4 Frontier Days Rodeo handles sell-out crowds of about 5,500, Baynes said attendance at the Yavapai Fair is an unknown this year - especially on Saturday. "We could see 7,000 or 8,000 people, and we wanted to be safe," he said.
The organizers also reportedly have dealt with the insurance-coverage issue - achieving the $10 million coverage that the Arizona Municipal Risk Retention Pool required. Although noting that the city was still awaiting the required documents, City Attorney Jon Paladini said the coverage "was acceptable to the risk pool, so they signed off on it."
Because Prescott Frontier Days, Inc. leases the rodeo grounds from the city, the council's authorization allowed for Frontier Days to host the 2015 Yavapai Fair at the grounds.
Information about the fair is available online at: www.yavapaifair.com/. Darby said more information about the arena entertainment would be posted in coming weeks. In addition, the website states that premium books and fliers would be available soon at local stores.