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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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Virginia Farm Bureau, Universal Fairs now own Virginia State Fair, Meadow Event Park

 The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Tennessee-based Universal Fairs are the new owners of the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County and the operators of the State Fair of Virginia.

The two organizations formed a partnership to purchase the 331-acre property near Kings Dominion and the rights to run the fair. The deal closed Friday afternoon for $5.67 million.

That was the winning bid that Universal Fairs owner Mark Lovell submitted at a May 22 auction at the Meadow facility. The auction was part of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings of the previous owner, State Fair of Virginia Inc. Lovell later formed a 50-50 partnership with the farm bureau, which advocates on behalf of Virginia’s farmers.

The two organizations, through a new entity called Commonwealth Fairs and Events LLC, will together own and operate the state fair as well as numerous other events throughout the year at the Meadow Event Park.

This year’s fair is planned Sept. 28 through Oct. 7.

The Richmond-based Farm Bureau will focus on the agricultural parts of the fair. The organization is planning events at the Meadow facility that aim to improve the farm literacy of children and teach the public about the importance of the agriculture industry through exhibits, tours, races, shows and competitions.

“Being the state’s largest farm organization, and having as part of our mission the preservation of agriculture, we felt it was paramount to step up to the plate and assist with the fair,” VFB President Wayne F. Pryor said in a prepared statement.

Lovell, whose company runs fairs in several states, called the partnership “the best of both worlds.” Caroline officials said they have been working for months to make the partnership a reality and keep the fair local.

“The State Fair of Virginia will be better than ever at the Meadow Event Park,” Caroline Board of Supervisors Chairman Wayne Acors said in a prepared statement.