West Views: Caldwell might be best site for Canyon County fair

The 2015 Canyon County Fair was well organized and well managed, and for all the criticism this editorial board has given the Fair Board for its unrealistic plans to move into a new location in a rural part of the county, the board and all of the employees and volunteers who actually produce the fair should be proud of the job they did.

After evaluating this year’s fair and how it went down, and looking to the future for the county institution, this editorial board has a few thoughts to share:

• Caldwell businesses need to do all they can to take advantage of the added foot traffic.

One of the biggest complaints many in Canyon County have with the way some businesses operate here is that they aren’t open enough hours. That’s one of the reasons some people here get on Interstate 84 and drive to Ada County on evenings and weekends when they’re looking for a good meal or entertainment — they know they’re more likely to find open doors at those hours in Boise than they are here.

As long as the fair continues to set up shop in Caldwell, local businesses should have extended hours to capitalize on all those extra bodies in close proximity. Yes, everyone loves to have nights and weekends off, and because of that, there are a whole lot of folks off at those times who are looking to eat and shop. That’s the best time to be open — even more so during fair time.

•  Caldwell is looking more and more like the best hope for a permanent fair site.

Granted, it’s not perfect. The agricultural facilities, in particular, are in desperate need of a major facelift and additional breathing room. That’s especially important in our county, where agriculture is such a major component of the landscape.

And a better solution to the concert dilemma is also a must. With all due respect to the College of Idaho and its concerns about the new artificial turf at Simplot Stadium, rodeo grounds are a poor location for concerts. Nobody wants to sit on the dirt.

But these issues can be addressed. The city has already procured an additional 10 acres and is willing to add even more by removing the baseball fields behind the current complex. Yes, replacing the decrepit livestock facilities and dealing with the College of Idaho football field would cost money, but imagine what could be done with the $12 million that would only pay for the first phase of the $40 million fair relocation project on Highway 20/26. Or even with $6 million.

The Idaho Center option doesn’t look as good as it once did, as much of the surrounding land apparently will be going to other purposes. And that’s a major disappointment, because that would have been the perfect site for the fair.

With a modest amount of money, some elbow grease and a positive attitude, Caldwell may very well be the best bet for the permanent home of the Canyon County Fair — and all the businesses in town should do all they can to capitalize.