TAYLOR COUNTY—After careful thought, consideration and a great deal of conversation, the Taylor County Fair Board made the hard decision to cancel this year’s event.
“After much consideration, and reviewing options from every angle, we, the Fair Board, have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Taylor County Fair,” said Taylor County Fair Board Member Julie Royce. “Please understand, no one wanted the fair to happen this year more than the group of volunteers who work year-round to keep it alive.”
In addition to putting the health and well-being of fair goers and workers first, and the possible difficulties stemming from the guidelines set forth by Governor Justice, the fair board was shouldered with additional issues.
“During recent meetings and conversations, we sought input and guidance from the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department. Dr. [David] Bender and Shawn Thorn were on hand to answer all of the questions we had, which was great,” reported Royce. “We really didn’t want to have to cancel but holding this year’s fair was just not feasible.”
Not only did the board seek input from the health department, they examined the guidelines set forth for fairs and festivals within the state.
“There were certain guidelines printed for fairs and festivals, in particular, but there were additional guidelines that we had to look at, as well,” she revealed. “For instance, for concessions, we were instructed to look at the guidelines for restaurants and for vendors, we had to refer to retail store guidelines.”
She said that logistically, holding the fair would have been somewhat of a difficult situation due to social distancing guidelines in relation to spacing at the fairgrounds.
“Not only would we have to install plexiglass in the concession stands, there was an issue with ride capacity, who would be allowed to ride together and then, of course, lines,” Royce commented.
One of the issues Royce noted that jumped out to her as being a point of contention was that many youths attend the fair to visit with their friends, but due to stipulations set forth in the guidelines, only those children within the same family would be allowed to ride together.
Another factor the fair board saw as becoming an issue was the extended time between each ride rotation, due to increased cleaning, which would lead to longer lines and the congregation of more individuals.
“The amusement personnel would be required to wipe every ride seat down, sterilizing the rides after each round,” said Royce. “Can you imagine the time in that?”
She revealed that after speaking with their amusement company, they were told the cleaning and sterilizing would not be an issue, however, it would take time, causing lines to increase.
“While standing in line, they are requiring at least five to six feet between fairgoers,” Royce noted. “Anyone who has been to the fair knows that there are already spacing issues when lines begin to form, let alone once we add additional space between individuals.”
One suggestion that was presented was to do away with the track events to allow the expansion of rides to that portion of the fairgrounds.
“Our contract with the amusement company states that we have to have track events and entertainment,” Royce disclosed. “So that was not doable. By the time you look at those factors regarding rides alone, it was going to be very difficult to pull it off.”
In addition, she said that with the addition of hand sanitizer stations, increased cleaning of the restroom facilities, defined entrance and exit points for the barns and exhibit halls and a proposed limit on guests within the venue, hosting a fair this year was just not feasible.
One of the major factors that the Taylor County Fair Board was faced with was the unknown fate of events as the Coronavirus numbers continue to fluctuate. And with the fate of the fair up in the air, the board was weary of moving on with planning and preparations for an event that may ultimately not be allowed to happen.
“It costs money to put on the fair, and we are a non-profit. The fair is not funded by the county or state, but by the money we raise with events and by some local business sponsorships,” Royce revealed. “We couldn’t waste money to put deposits down if it was going to ultimately fall through.”
“Of course, the potential for the spread of COVID was the biggest thing that led to us making our ultimate decision. We really wanted to have the fair and hated to have to cancel it,” she added.
Because the fair board recognizes the importance of the time, hard work and commitment put forth by our local Junior Livestock, FFA and 4H members, they will still be working with those entities to hold the exhibition and sale for these youths, as long as regulations permit.
While plans are in the works, there is not a definite answer as to how that will be carried out, at this time. However, information will be forth coming on that event.
“We want people to know that we have put a lot of thought into our decision and it was very important to us to make sure we were making a responsible decision. We appreciate your understanding in this difficult, and often disappointing time. We hope to see you all next year at the 2021 Taylor County Fair,” Royce imparted.