Arizona Announces State Fair Returning in 2021

This year’s temporary location will be larger and safer; allows fair grounds to provide vital public health needs

State of Arizona Office of the Governor

The Arizona State Fair Board decided unanimously to temporarily relocate the State Fair to a new, larger and safer location for 2021. The Arizona State Fair is an annual event that draws more than one million guests, and today’s decision will allow the fair to proceed later this year.

Last fall, the State Fair was canceled due to COVID-19, prompting an offer from the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) to host the 2021 fair on the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority (WHPDA). The area is larger than the size of the State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, allowing for appropriate social distancing and other public health mitigation measures.

“The Arizona State Fair is a beloved annual tradition for countless Arizona families,” said Governor Ducey. “This gracious offer by the Gila River Indian Community and today’s decision by the Arizona State Fair Board ensures that another year won’t pass without a State Fair.”

Since last year, the State Fair has been a vital location for mass testing and vaccine distribution. This temporary relocation allows the fair grounds to continue to be available for public health needs in an underserved area of our community. It also guarantees that Arizonans will be able to enjoy the fair this year.

“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 Governor 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, likely later this year. 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. We are thankful to GRIC and the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority for offering this opportunity.”

Updates will be provided on the planning and finalized dates.

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