PHOENIX — This year’s Arizona State Fair will be moving away from the fairgrounds in Phoenix to a new temporary location at Wild Horse Pass near Chandler.

Authorities said dates are being finalized, but the fair usually is held in October.

Last year’s fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fairgrounds are currently being used for a vaccination site operated by Banner Health.

The Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board voted Thursday to approve the fair’s move to Wild Horse Pass.

Earlier in the day, fair officials toured the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and then hosted a public meeting.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that the fair “will be temporarily moved to a large, safe venue on the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority thanks to a gracious offer from the Gila River Indian Community.”

Ducey added that the State Fairgrounds have been a vital location for mass testing and vaccine distribution and the temporary relocation allows the fairgrounds to continue to be available for public health needs.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Wanell Costello, executive director of Arizona Exposition and State Fair. “The Arizona State Fair is a rich tradition that Arizonans and visitors enjoy every year, and we are working hard to make sure it happens successfully this year.”

GRIC Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis echoed those statements.

“The Gila River Indian Community, along with the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority, is proud to be a partner in the time-honored celebration of the State Fair,” he said. “Safety has been our number one priority during the pandemic and we are prepared to carry on this legacy for all of Arizona in the most supportive way possible. WHPDA is more than capable to deliver a memorable State Fair experience and we welcome Arizonans to come and enjoy themselves in our Community.”

The GRIC’s letter to the State Fair Board stated that “WHPDA has the space and the know how to host and deliver a meaningful, safe and appropriately scaled outdoor event. It would be their honor to work with State and outside medical professionals to develop a plan to safely host the Arizona State Fair.”

While the GRIC offered to host a March fair, that timeline proved too ambitious. The state is currently working to finalize 2021 dates. However, by making this decision early, it allowed the state to move forward with fair planning and not risk the event being canceled again due to uncertainty.

As always, the fair will include agricultural, cultural and performing arts components. Additionally, given the location on Native lands, a special focus will be placed on Indian Country and the state’s rich Native American heritage.

“While we are hopeful that vaccine distribution will mean a return to normality, this temporary location gives us the ability to plan and ensure the fair goes on no matter what,” said Jonathan Lines, chairman of the State Fair Board. “By working with the Gila River Indian Community on this option, we’ve been able to give early certainty to vendors we needed to secure to make this event a success, while also ensuring this event is safe for all Arizonans.”

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