* This story is breaking. Check back for updates.
** Updated May 21, 4:10 p.m.
The 2020 Ohio State Fair has been canceled, due to public health and financial concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ohio Expositions Commission made the announcement May 21. The fair was scheduled for July 29-Aug. 9.
“Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans,” said Andy Doehrel, chair of the Ohio Expositions Commission, in a statement.
Last year, nearly one million people attended the state fair. Having a reduced-capacity fair, to follow social distancing standards, would have been expensive and could have put the fair at risk financially for the future.
“We need to protect the great Ohio State Fair for future generations,” Doehrel said.
The commission is now focused on planning for the 2021 fair, which is scheduled for July 28 through Aug. 8.
In a May 21 press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine said he believed that, while it was a sad day for many Ohioans, canceling the state fair was the right decision.
“The idea of having a state fair this year — with that many people coming together — just didn’t work,” DeWine said.
He added that the state is currently reviewing recommendations from his fair advisory group.
DeWine said his objective for county fairs is still to find a way to have junior fairs at the minimum, so that youth can compete and show their projects, but added that he doesn’t know whether that objective can be achieved.
“This is a work in progress, and we’re gonna have to see as we move forward,” he said.
In a Facebook post, the fair noted that it plans to celebrate agriculture from a distance this year, through online content and social media. The fair plans to share more information about its plans for digital content in the coming weeks.
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