LIMA — Gov. Mike DeWine’s restrictions on holding full county fairs have put the Allen County fair board in a bind.
At a meeting Wednesday night, board members discussed what they could and could not do under the new orders from the governor, which are aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. They decided to shorten the fair by two days and exclude the general public from this year’s fair.
The orders themselves haven’t been posted, but board members understand it would limit all fairs after July 31 to a junior fair only. That means no grandstand entertainment, no rides, no games, no midway entertainment, no merchants. Harness racing would be allowed, but no spectators would be allowed in the grandstand.
The board quickly went into executive session to discuss the latest information from Allen County Public Health Commissioner Kathy Luhn.
After 42 minutes, the board returned and began to discuss their plan of action.
The fair board then unanimously decided to hold a junior fair only, instead of canceling the whole 2020 fair.
They also decided to shorten the length of the fair, which is scheduled to start Aug. 21 and run seven instead of nine days.
Board member Alan Mefferd moved that the fair be only for immediate family members, excluding the general public from this year’s fair.
During the discussion, there were concerns about limiting it to only those family members, but as Mefferd indicated it’s for the health and safety of everyone.
“We as a board have to be responsible,” Mefferd said. “The kids will still be able to show their projects.”
The motion passed by a 10-5 vote.
Because of the governor’s mandates, anyone on the fairgrounds will have to wear a mask.
“Masks are mandated, or they’ll shut us down,” said Alice Bennett, a board member.
Board president Dan Kimmet reiterated the need for wearing masks.
“We don’t want to ruin it for everybody,” Kimmet said.
Keeping camping at this year’s fair would be difficult, with fewer days and factoring in social distancing.
The motion was made to allow camping for junior fair exhibitors and advisors, and that was passed.
The board also approved refunding money to vendors who have already committed to the fair and people who bought season passes, fair memberships and senior camping.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.