Ohio fairs’ responses to new state guidelines and funding announced June 9 have varied across the board. Several fairs have reversed earlier decisions to cancel. Others have stood by their initial decisions.
Two weeks after calling off the entire fair, the Columbiana County Fair Board reversed its decision June 17. The board is now planning a junior fair for market animals only.
The board held an emergency meeting June 10 to discuss the new developments, then decided to table the discussion for a week so board members could read through the guidelines and get answers to some of their questions. The new guidelines were less restrictive than the original ones, and the state also offered $50,000 to help fairs that have junior fairs operate safely this year, and $15,000 for fairs that cancel to put towards next year.
At the June 17 meeting, board members discussed their thoughts on the new guidelines.
With the fair scheduled for Aug. 3-9, just over six weeks away, some board members worried that it could be difficult to pull off at this point.
“I want a junior fair to happen, but at the same time, there’s just so much that’s already been canceled that I don’t know if we can recover,” said Katie McCoy, a board member, before the vote.
Other board members noted that while they would like to have a junior fair, and while the new guidelines and funding made things easier, there were still details to work out.
“We can’t change our minds without having all our ducks in a row,” said Amanda Moore, board member.
After a long discussion, the board voted 11-4 to have a junior fair with only market animals and camping. The income from offering camping will help offset costs from the junior fair, board members said.
“Everybody, including the ones that voted against it … we all gotta step up,” said fair board president John Wolf. “We need to get everybody’s input. If this is gonna work, that’s the only way it’s gonna work.”
The board will meet again next week to decide on a full plan for the fair.
One day before the Columbiana County Fair’s board meeting, the Carroll County Fair met to discuss the new guidelines and funding. The Carroll County Fair previously canceled June 2, one day before Columbiana County’s initial decision.
The board announced in a June 17 Facebook post that it would stand by its decision to cancel, noting safety concerns.
“As we have seen, COVID-19 numbers have increased as restrictions have been loosened,” the post read. “Educating is a huge part of our duties as board members. Right here is a great life lesson. Life isn’t fair.”
The board added that they know junior fair exhibitors have spent time and money getting their projects ready for the fair, and that this decision must be disappointing for them.
“How you handle it right now, that is important. How are you going to let it define you?” the post read.
The Carroll County Fair is planning an online and live auction for junior fair exhibitors the week of July 20.
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