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Saline County readying State Fair site proposal

Arkansas towns have only eight days left if they want to try and move the state fair to their backyard.
Arkansas towns have only eight days left if they want to try and move the state fair to their backyard.  The city of Little Rock says it wants to keep the state fair right where it is on Roosevelt Street.  But Saline County is ready to offer up locations to give the state fair a new home.

In a business where bigger is better, the state fair says it needs to be a lot better.  Organizers want to add 350 acres of land and they are willing to look beyond the midway in Little Rock.

The Saline County fair is a day away and state Senator Shane Broadway, D-Bryant, hopes a step closer to bringing the state fair here.

"Oh, it'd be a huge boost," Broadway says. "They're soliciting those different ideas so we're going to give them several things to take a look at and see if it might match up."

The Saline County Economic Development Corporation plans to submit three site locations next week.  The largest is at the fairgrounds in Benton, building on to what's already in place.

The state fair wants better traffic flow around the grounds, and more money inside it.  Non-fair events year-round bring only 1/3 the revenue the fair does in just ten October days.

"The fair is really going to have to look at what they want to be like 50-60 years from now,” Broadway says.  “This is not building a state fair for just the next 5 or 10."

No matter what state fairgrounds officials decide to do, the decision will be an expensive one.  Fix what they have here could cost upwards of $50 million dollars, start over somewhere else brand new could cost two to three times that much."

That's why Little Rock feels it has a good chance to keep the fair right where it is and has already submitted expansion plans on the existing grounds.

Other towns want in too and Broadway says there's too much economic impact on the line to not join in.

"If they're going to put it out and several other communities are going to be a part of it then Saline County doesn't want to miss out at least being in the mix," Broadway says.

In addition to Saline County, Carlisle in Lonoke County and Jacksonville have submitted proposals to the state fair.  Cabot in Lonoke County and North Little Rock have also expressed interest.
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