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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire may be in jeopardy if the Alachua County Commission decides to move the county fairgrounds to Newberry.

Mayor Craig Lowe said he does not want the city-run fair to take place in another city.

"I don't think the City of Gainesville is going to operate the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Newberry," said Lowe at Thursday's Gainesville City Commission meeting. "We want it in Gainesville."

The county fairgrounds, located near Gainesville Regional Airport, has hosted the fair for about 20 years. It is one of the only places in Gainesville that's big enough to handle a fair of Hoggetowne's magnitude, said Linda Piper, events coordinator for the city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

Those factors could put the fair in a state of uncertainty if the fairgrounds is moved to Newberry.

The county had a plan in place to move the site to a piece of county-owned land on Waldo Road. The County Commission decided in September to consider a request to move the fairgrounds to a roughly 86-acre site in Newberry. The County Commission has not yet said when it will decide on the fairgrounds location.

If the county decides to move the fairgrounds to the Waldo Road location, the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, which takes place during the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February, will not be affected, Lowe said.

But if the county decides to move the fairgrounds to Newberry, Lowe said he might bring the issue before the City Commission to have it vote on whether to move the fair to another location in Gainesville.

Piper said she hasn't seen another location in Gainesville that's big enough to hold the fair, but she said she's willing to look at alternatives.

But, she said, she needs to be able to park 5,000 cars and have enough room to house vendors, performances and attractions - including an elephant ride - that come with the annual fair. The fair drew 55,000 people over the span of five days this year, Piper said.

"I agree with the mayor that it should be in Gainesville, not Newberry. I'm willing for it to be wherever it needs to go," she said.

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