LIMA — Ohio county fairs now have some guidance as to how they might operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine unveiled a multi-step approach that gives fair boards and agricultural societies across the state a roadmap to opening.
Some fairs across the region have canceled like the Paulding County Fair. The Shelby County Fair announced recently their fair would be a Junior Fair only.
Putnam County is expected to decide its course of action on Tuesday.
Allen County’s fair isn’t happening until August 21 so there’s lots of time to figure things out.
“Our intent has always been to hold the fair,” said Bob Fricke, Allen County Fair general manager. “When the COVID-19 started, we started right in on discussions and we’ve continued discussing what-if scenarios through last several months. Now with the governor giving some guidelines in regards to the fairs, junior fairs, we’re really gonna be able to dive in and start trying to get some solid plans together.”
The organization, International Association of Fairs and Expositions, has been keeping a close eye on the situation.
“We’ve left this up to each individual fair board. We were fortunate to finally get this document from the governor on reopening Ohio and specifically for Ohio fairs,” said Howard Call, a certified fair executive with the organization. “We believe that what’s in the rollout — if done correctly, we can have people in our barns at 50% of the building capacity. We can have auction sales, we can have shows limiting 10 youth in the show ring, which might stretch some shows out. But we’ve got, you know, three days as we move our animals in and out to get that done.”
Grandstand shows like the Brad Paisley concert that’s scheduled for the Allen County Fair are still up in the air.
“I don’t know how that is going to play yet. We haven’t seen guidance on theaters and those types of, you know, mass gathering venues,” Call said.
“Well, we’ve been in constant communication with our booking agency, Variety Attractions,” Fricke said. “We’ve been in communication with Brad’s tour manager, making sure of what their feelings are. What they’ve shared with us is that Brad is itching to get out on the road and fully plans on being here because there’s been a lot of artists canceling tours, and Brad wants to be at the Allen County Fair. So pending all the guidance that we’re going to go through and restructuring, it may have a different look than what we’ve done in the past.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.