Senior Fair Board: Fayette County Junior Fair will be held

By Ryan Carter -

The Fayette County Senior Fair Board announced Wednesday that it will hold a junior fair this year, although many details are still being discussed due to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

“We are going to try to make it as close to the traditional fair as we can, but we will have to tweak the schedule as we go along,” said Bob Schwartz, senior fair board president. “Even though it’s going to be a financial burden to go forward, we just felt as a board that it was our duty to put on a show for the junior exhibitors. They have purchased their projects, they have them in hand and they have put in the work. We thought it was our obligation to continue to hold a junior fair in some form or fashion.”

A decision about the opening of the Midway, rides, food vendors, grandstand events, etc. to patrons on the Fayette County Fairgrounds has not been made at this time. Crowd limit guidelines have also not been decided.

“We are withholding an announcement on those, pending guidance from the state,” said Doug Marine, the vice president of the senior fair board. “Although we are trying to have this fair represent our tradition as much as possible, it’s dependent upon the restrictions and guidelines at that time. We don’t know what the COVID regulations are going to be closer to fair time as far as limiting crowds and social distancing rules. All of that will play into our decisions.”

Certain events have been canceled this year, including: all open class shows, fine arts (flowers, pictures, paintings, farm, home furnishings, baking), Guys & Gals Lead, open cattle show, open sheep show, and the Pedal Pull.

Camping will be permitted with some restrictions.

Both Schwartz and Marine expressed their disappointment in what they described as a lack of guidance from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“We’re very disappointed in the Governor and the Department of Agriculture for not giving us guidelines for what we can do and what we can’t do. They’re leaving us dangling by a thread,” said Schwartz. “We’ve reached out several times and it’s fallen on deaf ears. We are not pleased with what’s come from Columbus.”

Locally, Marine said the board has had great communication with and guidance from the Fayette County Health District.

“We communicate with (deputy health commissioner) Leigh Cannon and our local health district on all of our planned activities,” he said. “They’ve been a great resource for us in helping to plot and plan the future.”

Marine added that he’s confident livestock shows can happen in some form or fashion, even as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

“Now, the sales are still something we’re going to have to work through,” Marine said. “We have a sales committee that manages our junior fair livestock sales and we will use their help and guidance in deciding what is the best avenue to have a sale. We have no idea what it’s going to look like at this point, but discussions are forthcoming.”

Harness racing will be staged as scheduled, according to Schwartz.

“It may be with spectators or it may be without spectators. But we are going to host the races,” Schwartz said. “Again, those decisions will be announced as we get closer to the fair.”

The dates of the fair, July 20-25, remain the same, and currently the fair schedule is the same.

“As it is for basically everything right now, the schedule is day-to-day,” said Marine. “We will have a more firm schedule closer to the date. A month from now, you could be allowed 1,000 people instead of 300. The strategy can always be changed. It could all change when the next directive or order drops, but we are prepared to adapt with the changes.”

The senior fair board is asking the Fayette County community to “pull together and have the best fair as possible for our youth.”

Anyone with questions can contact the fair office at 740-335-5856.

Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.

By Ryan Carter