Davis County Fair books Great Bear Show

Friday , February 28, 2014 - 12:30 PM

Bryon Saxton, Standard-Examiner Staff

FARMINGTON — More than a ton of bear will be making its presence felt in Davis County this summer in serving as a main attraction at the annual County Fair.

The county commission Tuesday approved a $8,000 contract with The Great Bear Show out of Jefferson, Texas.

The bear exhibit, to offer an all-day display each day of the fair, as well as three educational shows daily, will serve as one of the main attractions for the four-day County Fair set for Aug. 13-16 at the Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 1100 West, Farmington.

The Great Bear Show offers both an all-day display in addition to its educational shows, Legacy Events Center Director Dave Hansen said.

Hansen is acting as the interim county fair coordinator until one can be hired.

Every year the county attempts to offer a unique animal display for educational and entertainment purposes, Hansen said.

Last year it was elephants, the year before, devil rays in an aquarium.

The bear show will consist of five adult black bears, the two largest Andy and Jacki, both males, weighing in at 478 pounds and 454 pounds respectively, said Bob Steele, handler and owner of The Great Bear Show.

Steele said Andy, his largest bear, has been a regular on the Animal Planet “I’m Alive” television series.

But this won’t be the bears’ first visit to Utah.

Steele said his show was an attraction at the 2013 Washington County Fair, which he has been booked for a repeat visit this year.

The show has also been performed at the Richfield County Fair and Weber County Fair in past years.

“We do about five to seven sportsman shows in the winter time, and six to 10 fairs in the summer," Steele said.

“They’ve been doing it all their life,” he said of the well-traveled bears, which for the most part keep to themselves when not entertaining. “They get noisy come feeding time. They get pretty anxious about their dinner.”

And the one thing most people don’t know about black bears that they should, said Steele, is black bears don’t show any emotion, like a grizzly bear does. That means if you’re being chased by a black bear, don’t curl into a fetal position and play dead.

“With black bears, you fight for your life," Steele said.

But these particular bears coming to Davis County will be contained within a large portable compound that provides a place for the bears to swim and the shade they need, Steele said.

But before opponents of such animal acts fire off a single email, there are things they should know, Steele said.

The Great Bear Show, established in 1977, is the oldest and longest running wild animal educational show in the country, obtaining most of the bears in it as orphaned cubs that would not survive in the wild, Hansen said.

Bears are one of the few species that cannot be rehabilitated back into the wild. Once they have made any type of human contact, they have lost their fear and have an irreversible impression that humans are an easy source of food, Hansen said.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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