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Locals Cash In On Fair Parking

Parking at the Eastern Idaho State Fair is always a hassle, but for some it’s a cash cow. Once a year, some enterprising residents get to make some extra dough.

For the Gardner family of Blackfoot, the state fair is an opportunity to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit.

Sam Gardner and his wife Heidi use their back yard as a parking lot for fairgoers. It’s their third year in the booming business.

“We’ve got some in the front and then we bring the cars back here,? Heidi said. ?Sometimes we get cars that like the fenced-in back yard so that they have some privacy back here. We can usually fit about nine or 10 in the back yard.”

The payoff for a week with a yard full of strangers cars?

“Last year we made about 800 bucks in one week. So, can’t complain about it.”

But not all want to pay full price and so the haggling begins.

“How about $5? I see it’s $5 across the street,” said Peggy Treese, who was trying to find a cheap place to park.

In the end though, the call of a safe, convenient place to park wins over the Day family.

“Any walking we can cut down on beforehand will pay off at the end of the day,” said Mike Day.

And Dad’s not the only one who gets that it?s important to park close.

“So we don’t get tired,” son Calvin Day said.

Backyard parking tycoons aren’t the only beneficiaries of the rush on parking. Local business owners are getting in on the action, too.

The owners of one lot said they make $8,000 to $9,000 a year charging for parking.

Kallie Mikesell and her husband Mike said the state fair parking business is big for them.

“Usually we do somewhere between 200 and 300 cars a day, so you know, maybe $1,200 a day,” Kallie said.

Their lot is only steps from the fairground entrance, and parkers say this helps.

“Because I?m an old lady and it’s easier for one to get around and I don’t have to walk a mile to get in,” Nellie Feudner said.

Still, there’s another group: The walkers.

“Either they say, ‘Oh, I’ll never pay to park’ or ‘It doesn’t matter to me, I’d rather pay than walk.’?

Of course, the state fair trolley shuttles are still running to bus people back and forth to those free spots.

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