LIMA — Area county fair boards are gearing up for what they hope will be full fairs but that’s still up in the air with current health regulations due to COVID-19.
Wednesday night, the Allen County Fair Board met and board members are still planning for a full fair between August 20 and August 28.
Board president Brad Core is optimistic it can happen.
“The board is moving forward with plans of putting on a full normal fair like we did in 2019. So until we get to a point in time where the governor says we’re absolutely not allowed to do that, that’s our intention to move forward with a normal fair,” Core said.
During the board meeting, it was announced that MacKenzie Porter would open for Brad Paisley on August 21 in the grandstand.
She is a rising star in country music that hails from Canada. Her latest album is “Drinkin’ Songs: The Collection.”
In Putnam County, its fair is scheduled to run June 21 through June 26.
Last year, most of the fair was canceled due to COVID-19.
Kevin Wilson, Putnam County Agricultural Society secretary, says they are also moving ahead with plans for a full fair this year.
“We are also watching the governor’s guidelines. I do think the guidelines permit us at this time to have a full fair with certain restrictions,” Wilson said.
One of those restrictions requires fewer people in the grandstand.
“I think, if I’m not mistaken, it’s currently at 25% capacity so we’re watching some of those guidelines, hoping that they change before June 21,” Wilson said.
Those kinds of restrictions would likely affect the Brad Paisley concert at the Allen County Fair.
“The economics don’t work under a partial crowd. So I would expect the Brad Paisley concert to either be a full, unrestricted crowd — or not happen. It’s our hope and our expectation at this point that we would operate with a full, unrestricted crowd but it’s going to depend on what happens with the (COVID-19) numbers and what the governor and the state health department say,” Core said.
Likewise, Auglaize County Fair Manager Ed Doenges says the restrictions could hurt them as far as their grandstand events go.
“Our biggest night in the grandstand is for the demolition derby. It’s just hard to put on a grandstand event unless you can fill the grandstands and make it worth the while and get out of what you put into it,” Doenges said.
He says they are still planning to put on a full fair between August 1 and August 7 this year.
“Hopefully, we don’t have to make adjustments. We did have to make adjustments last year, three days before the fair, when it got canceled back to a junior fair and we got through that one,” Doenges said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.