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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Could State Fair be sold again?

Mark Lovell

Mark Lovell says there will be a State Fair in Virginia this fall. But it remains unclear whether his company will be running it.

Lovell’s Universal Fairs company submitted the winning bid at a May 22 auction for the fair and the 331-acre Meadow Event Park property in Caroline County that has been the Virginia fair’s home since 2009.

Since then Lovell said he has been contacted by three or four people interested in buying the property and running the fair. Two have made offers.

Lovell said he didn’t solicit the offers and isn’t necessarily looking to sell. But he said if the price was high enough he would consider selling the property. He said he has made a counter-offer on the latest inquiry and hasn’t received an answer. He said he was contacted by an attorney and doesn’t know the identity of the potential buyer.

Lovell said the fair will go on regardless, whether it’s him or the group he sells to running it.

Lovell’s company, which is based near Memphis, Tenn., is currently focused on organizing details for this year’s fair, which is scheduled Sept. 28-Oct. 7. He also has big plans for the Meadow Event Park, including three-day music festivals, bike rallies, trade shows, weddings, horse events, banquets and corporate meetings.

He plans to have a full-time staff of about five people at the Meadow Event Park, including two people that already work for him. He said he’s been talking to people who worked for the Meadow facility’s previous owner, State Fair of Virginia Inc., about coming to work for Universal Fairs.

Universal Fairs puts on a variety of U.S. fairs, festivals and expos, including the recently acquired Georgia State Fair.

The May 22 auction was held after State Fair of Virginia Inc. declared bankruptcy late last year. Lovell submitted the winning bid of $5.67 million, which includes a 6 percent commission for Motley’s Auction & Realty Group.

Lovell said he isn’t sure why the people who have approached him about buying the property and fair rights didn’t just bid themselves at auction. He has 90 days from the auction date to close on the property, though he said he will probably buy it well before then.

Motley’s ran a separate online auction for farm equipment and other property at the park that wasn’t included in Lovell’s deal and that grossed about $730,000. The creditors in the State Fair of Virginia Inc. bankruptcy case also anticipate receiving an additional $1.7 million from the SFVA’s accounts. Up to $356,000 of that amount will be used to fund student scholarships.

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