LIMA — Things continue to change for the Allen County Fair, which begins Friday.
On Tuesday, the board announced the fair will open to the public on Friday, Aug. 28, and Saturday, Aug. 29, for what they’re calling a Fair Food Bash — an opportunity for fairgoers to satisfy their taste buds with all the traditional vendors for the season.
Admission will be free and open to all from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., masks will be recommended and vendors will be offering walk-up service.
The rest of the fair will be closed to the public with the exception of immediate family members for junior fair exhibitors, who will be the focus of this year’s fair with all entertainment, rides and games nixed.
“Some of these kids have had these projects for almost a year now. For them, a lot of how this operates is they take what project money they make and roll it into next year’s project,” said Kelly Coble, 4-H youth development lead. “It’s really important to hold these junior fairs because it’s important for them and not doing so may hinder their abilities to do anything in the future. That was kind of our intent in moving forward — also they just wanted something semi-normal. This was our way of trying to keep things as normal as we can and at least give them some normalcy this summer.”
Coble said a few shows did have to be eliminated but for the most part, they will run rather normally.
“The only real change is that in some cases you may see an individual that’s wearing a mask. That’s really the biggest difference,” Coble said.
Shows will be open to immediate family members and the fair board is working with organizations to live stream or broadcast them on WTLW TV44and Facebook Live.
“Just on Monday the health department approved our plan,” Coble said. “For us and the fair board, the struggle for junior fair is helping someone who doesn’t know the background into how a show is running and helping them understand that a lot of social distancing already happens when you’re here because that’s just the natural animal environment.”
Coble said the students have mixed emotions on this year’s fair still.
“I think there are two different mindsets,” she explained. “Some are happy it’s still happening because they get to show and we’re glad for some of our seniors that it’s their last show and they have that ability, but some are still on the sad side that it’s not open to the public, that they don’t get to show their projects off to people outside of their immediate circles and not getting that huge support group you might normally have.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.