New owner: State Fair to return in September

Published: May. 22, 2012 at 6:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2012 at 8:10 PM EDT
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The State Fair of Virginia appears to be back in business. Tuesday, a Tennessee man bought the fair at auction following a successful bid of $5.35 million.

The buyer is Mark Lovell, president of Cordova, Tenn.-based Universal Fairs, and he's telling us to mark the calendar: His intent is to bring the State Fair of Virginia back September 28th.

Mark Lovell came to Caroline County with more than $5 million to spend, and he's leaving with a state fair.

"We love the fair and I think…no one around here needs to worry about it. We're gonna put on a fabulous, 10-day event," Lovell said.

Earlier, Lovell bid successfully on the Meadow Event Park's 331 acres, also the state fair's name, logo and other intellectual property. He says this year's fair will be bigger and better.

"We have a lot of experience running fairs. We're very good at it. And we'd like to make 'em clean, safe, and family friendly," Lovell said.

Lovell's winning bid took place during a lightning fast auction Tuesday that saw bids begin at $2.5 million and end just north of $5 million. The massive Caroline County property was sold in about eight minutes, starting a new chapter for the fair which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

"State Fair of Virginia always had a great fair. Just a couple of unfortunate situations that changed it," Lovell said.

Lovell says he's excited, expressing no doubt that the fair will come together in time for its intended September opening.

"Well, there's plenty of room. Bring on the cars...we got room to park 'em," he said with a smile.

While Lovell's winning bid was $5.35 million, the final price actually rises to $5.671 million after he pays a 6% commission to Motley's, the auctioneer.

The new owner says his plan is to hold the State Fair of Virginia from September 28th through October 7th.

The sale is still subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.

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