LIMA — The Allen County Fair Board has some big decisions to make when it comes to how this year’s fair will look.
The board met Wednesday night to continue discussions on what needs to be done in order to host the fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 21-29.
One big concern is the state orders on grandstand events and how that would affect the Brad Paisley concert which is scheduled for Aug. 22.
“The numbers are not really looking good because they only want you to have an event no bigger than 2,500. That wouldn’t happen with this show. There’s no way that we could even come close to breaking even or even make it feasible to have,” said Dan Kimmet, Allen County Fair Board president. “It’s a great show. It’s a shame that this came up. I think it would have been a great addition to the fair and to this community.”
The board voted to look into postponing the concert. They’ll have to approach Paisley’s management team to work out details of the postponement and see if he might be available to perform at next year’s fair.
The fair is two months away but the clock is ticking to determine what they’ll be able to do. New guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health were released last week that spell out what must be done in order to hold a county fair.
“I don’t see the restrictions lifting that much right now. We’ve got to plan ahead. It’s only fair to our concessionaires and our vendors. The 4-H kids got to prep for their show. A lot of them are getting their animals. We’ll probably do a modified fair at this point,” said Kimmet.
Fair manager Bob Fricke remains optimistic, though.
“The newest released guidance is definitely more achievable for county fairs to do,” Fricke said. “There’s going to be several meetings after this because nine days of fair can’t be all figured out in one night, but the board’s been meeting and having ‘what if’ meetings now with these new guidances some things that we were considering are no longer a concern of ours. Obviously the social distancing, the safety procedures are always our top priority out here. All those things are going to be factored into our future decisions. I’m very optimistic that we’re going to have a modified fair. The guidelines look like it’s going to allow us to do it but there will be some changes. We just don’t have those defined changes just yet.”
Fricke, who has been the fair manager for the past five years, could be out after this year’s fair.
According to the minutes of the May 20 meeting, the board voted not to renew Fricke’s contract for another year and voted to begin a search for a new fair manager.
Neither Fricke nor Kimmet would comment on that development at the Wednesday night meeting.
Fricke’s contract runs through the end of November.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.