PHOENIX — The Arizona State Fair has been held at the fairgrounds near 19th Avenue and McDowell Road for decades. This year it will move to Wild Horse Pass, part of the Gila River Indian Community creating some mixed reactions from those who live nearby.
"This is our biggest fundraiser. We have several others but, this is our biggest,” says Deacon Robert Moore with Greater Progressive Christian Church.
The church opens its parking lot up annually to customers. Volunteers work hard to sell spots during the nearly month-long event.
They average between $20-$40,000 a year, funds the church heavily relies on. “A lot of our community events, the upkeep and maintenance of the church, all the extras that the church wants to do... like run a food pantry, Christmas gifts for the neighborhood kids,” says Moore.
The Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board voted last week to temporarily relocate the fair to Wild Horse Pass.
Governor Ducey said more space for social distancing played a part in the decision along with keeping the fairgrounds operating as a COVID-19 vaccination site. But, the change of venue could have a detrimental impact.
"We have people that drive down from Flagstaff; we have regulars that drive in from Albuquerque every year to park on this lot to attend the fair. That affects the hotels in the area, the restaurants, it affects a lot of different businesses,” says Moore.
The fair was canceled in 2020. Businesses lost out then and many children in the neighborhood feel like they are losing out as well.
"I'm mad,” says an 11-year-old boy who lives nearby.
Maria and Mike Luna were hoping to walk their six-month-old baby to the fair just like they did growing up. "Yeah, it would have been his first time. He loves the animals and you know, they had the barn there to see all the animals,” says Maria.
On the other hand, they say the fair can also cause some problems like heavy traffic. "I can see sometimes it's an inconvenience because they do block the driveways,” says Mike.
Some neighbors also say the fair has invited more crime to the area but, most ABC15 spoke with hope the venue change is in fact just temporary.