WAPAKONETA — Just days before the Auglaize County Fair was set to start, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday afternoon that all county fairs in the state will be limited to Junior Fair events beginning Friday.
The order will prohibit all games, rides and grandstand events to help minimize crowd size. Livestock and other 4-H and FFA competitions can remain intact, and harness racing can proceed with no spectators while a 10 p.m. curfew will be set for all barns, buildings and midways.
The Auglaize County Fair is set to begin Sunday and run through next week, the original schedule packed with the now-prohibited activities. Though a call was not returned Tuesday afternoon to The Lima News, the following post was made to the fair Facebook page:
“We understand the Governor has set some new mandates regarding fair. Please be patient as we too just learned the news and are working together to figure out the best resolution,” the post stated. “We will keep everyone up to date when we have more information.”
The Allen County Fair, which was also planned as a full modified fair, is scheduled for Aug. 21 through 29. Manager Bob Fricke said though the board was in the finalizing stages, he’s thankful they still have time to devise a new plan.
“I really feel for them,” Fricke said of the Auglaize County Fair board. “We have three weeks to make a decision, but they’re down to where they’re four days away, probably loading up the fairgrounds and having people traveling in for entertainment. That’s what we’re getting ready to do now, contact those outlying acts and vendors and start pulling the plug on things.”
The Allen County Fair board will meet Wednesday night in a previously scheduled meeting that was intended to finalize details for a modified fair after several special meetings throughout the summer.
“As soon as the governor made his announcement, our phones and emails start blowing up. We were preparing for a modified fair and now within the next 48 hours we have some hard decisions on next steps and getting that out to people as soon as the board makes those decisions,” Fricke said. “Earlier, we had worked out some different scenarios on how to run the fair with different guidances, so we’ll be pulling out some of those old notes and looking at those.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.