State Fair opens 16 site proposals for new location

State Fair opens 16 site proposals for new location

We know which cities are offering land and other incentives to move the state fair out of Little Rock. Generations have attended the fair at its current Roosevelt Road location for more than sixty years.
We know which cities are offering land and other incentives to move the state fair out of little rock.  Generations have attended the fair at its current Roosevelt Road location for more than sixty years.

It is sixteen different site locations in all.  All of them except one want to move the midway.  Little Rock is in the mix too to keep it here.

Almost like opening a present, the Arkansas Livestock Show Association looking inside boxes and envelopes to see if the future of the state fair lies outside of Little Rock.

The current 100 acre fair site is one-third the size of the 366-acre national average for state fairs.

It took about an hour to get each of the 16 site proposals opened Tuesday afternoon at the offices of Thomas Engineering in North Little Rock.

"Actually every time one of them came up, I thought that looks like a pretty good spot right there so they all look pretty good," state fair GM Ralph Shoptaw says.

Site locations include Carlisle, Little Rock, Lonoke, Jacksonville, Conway, Benton and Cabot as well as unincorporated areas of Lonoke, Saline, Pulaski and Faulkner counties.  A majority of the bids capitalize on locations with proximity to I-440, I-430, and I-40.  The Saline County site bid includes three sites, two of which rely on access to I-30 and I-530 near Hensley.  All of the bids met the requirement of 350 acres of available land.


"We're really just out of room, we need better access in,” state fair GM Ralph Shoptaw says.  “Those are just some of those problems that have caused us to take a look at where we're going to be 10 or 20 years down the road.


Basil Shoptaw with Thomas Engineering will now put together a report for his cousin, fair GM Ralph Shoptaw, to look at next month.

"I doubt we'll make a recommendation,” Basil Shoptaw says.  “I can see the association maybe make a short list."

Fair organizers say any move is predicated on having the funding to do it.  Little Rock says it will cost $50 million to add on to what's on Roosevelt Road, perhaps three times that much to start over.

The Arkansas Livestock Show Commission will likely narrow down the sites after this year's state fair which runs October 9-18.

"Then comes the hard part, figuring out what we want to do," Shoptaw says.

Shoptaw says the work the engineering firm is doing is coming at no cost right now.
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