Our manager and our events coordinator worked together on this. Other fairs were doing this kind of thing and we thought, ‘Why can’t we do it?’ We’ve got one of the best fairs around, we’ve got great vendors in the area we can call on. So they started putting the word out.
As far as my presidency year, this isn’t what I was planning on dealing with. We’ve had a ton of meetings. Getting information from county health officials was very beneficial. We wanted to make an educated decision. We all wanted to have the fair – there’s not a one of us who didn’t want to. But when it comes to risking overrunning our local hospitals, getting some of our fairgoers sick, grandmas and grandpas of 4H kids coming to watch their family members and then contracting it and ultimately something bad happens to them…we just didn’t feel that it was worth that much risk.
On the financial side, you start looking at all the extra sanitization that you’d have to buy. A 55-galloon drum is rated for around 2,000 people, and we have 200,000 to 250,000 attendees. You could spend a couple hundred thousand just on hand sanitizer. And that’s just for the gates. That doesn’t even mean within the fairgrounds.
Then you throw in the last piece of the puzzle with social distancing. How do you social distance at a county fair? We’re not built for that. Staying away from each other isn’t what makes this fair or any fair special.
People look at a fairgrounds and they don’t think about all the other entities that are involved with a fair – the vendors, the concert people, the carnival people. Everybody in the industry has been affected in one way or another all across the country. We have vendors who have been coming here for 40 years, and we want to see them still keep coming back. It gives us a chance to help them out a little bit, help the fair out a little bit. It helps the community out because they want to get their fix of fair food, and it gives them a chance to do that.
Writing and editing by Scott Weisser and Neil King