By June 20th last year, plans were well under way for the 2019 Jefferson County Fair. Contracts had all been written and approved for entertainment on the midway and motorsports on the track; food and novelty stands had been assigned their usual spaces along the midway; cloth goods, flowers, and garden plants have been evaluated and entries submitted for judging; 4-H animals have been chosen for judging; and the lawns had received their final clipping to make them the right height for their survival for another year. Almost everything was ready for the Jefferson County Fair at that time.
Not so for 2020 due to the appearance of the coronavirus which has threatened our world and altered our plans for everything. At the regular board meeting on June 3, after concluding several outstanding items of business, board members gave their reluctant approval to cancel the 2020 Jefferson County Fair due to the current restrictions to gatherings of no larger than 250 people at a time and other regulations on social distancing, plus the financial risk anticipated to the fair. Meanwhile, during the week of July 19-25, there will be NO events on the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
A press release was prepared by Stefany Alexander for publication on social media: “The Jefferson County Fair Authority is deeply saddened by the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Jefferson County Fair. We have held off making this decision as long as we could hoping for the best possible outcome. Although we have moved into the Green Phase, social gatherings larger than 250 people are restricted by Governor Tom Wolf and social distancing is to still be practiced. We feel that meeting these, as well as many other CDC and governmental guidelines, would be impractical and very difficult to enforce. We also have to consider the financial risk involved with holding the fair during this pandemic as well as keeping the safety of all parties involved a top priority.
The message continues,” Many of you are disappointed, know that we are also very disappointed by this situation. We may have canceled the fair; however, we are hoping to organize an event later in the year to bring our great community together. A very important piece of our fair are the youth exhibitors. These exhibitors work very hard and invest a great amount of time and money into their projects, so we have created a committee that will plan an event to support our youth livestock and horse exhibitors. More information on this will be coming soon. The Jefferson County Fair Authority appreciates your patience, understanding, and continued support into the future. Please continue to follow our social media pages and watch our website at www.jeffcofair.com for any updates.”
A number of events had been scheduled aside from the fair itself and they are being evaluated on a regular basis as restrictions are lifted by the state government or, if the situation changes there is a chance that rules may return as needed. One of these contracts currently exists with the Trailblazers Horse Club that call the fairgrounds “home” with five shows or horsemanship training session over the summer. Since their total attendance never goes any where near 250, the board agreed they could continue as long as they stay within the state’s health regulations. We won’t advertise the horse events beyond the club itself so the crowd isn’t encouraged to drop in for the event.
Readers may be aware of the fair’s contract with Mega Rock Radios’s Nathan Sharp for the Laurel Eye Monsters of Rock Festival next week on June 25-27. The details can be found on the web by using the website available for that purpose. The fair board has been somewhat concerned with approval for this event only several weeks before the fair but a cancellation would have been a financial disaster for the group promoting the concert. The conclusion is now – the fair board will prepare the grounds including the restrooms by sanitizing and it will be up to the concert promoters to keep it that way and turn it all back to the fair just as nearly perfect as possible. If readers are into this concert situation, be aware of any risks and enjoy the show.
That pretty much tells our story from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. A little research online shows that out of the 108 fairs in the State of Pennsylvania, 65 are canceled for this summer including many in our part of the state. Locally, Sykesville, Elk County at Kersey, Clearfield, and Dayton haven’t issued any statement about cancelling as of this week. Clarion County Fair is usually right after the Jefferson Co. Fair and they have issued this statement, “The Clarion County Fair may look a little different this year, but amid all the pandemic restrictions and cancellations by other area fairs, organizers are excited that the show will go on this year at Redbank Valley Municipal Park.”
“The fair is going to run,” Clarion County Fair Board president Josh Minich said “We’re going to be running on a reduced schedule. With the fair’s carnival company, Tropical Amusements, canceling several weeks ago, organizers went back to the drawing board to figure out how the fair could take place this year. What they came up with, is a four-day schedule, which will run from Wednesday, July 29, through Saturday, Aug. 1. It will include open livestock shows and sale, demolition derby, music, truck and tractor pulls, and an old-fashioned midway featuring games, a dunking booth, and more.”
“Members of the fair board feel the show must go on,” Minich reported, “There are many businesses and community members that count on it. The fair will attempt to follow social distancing guidelines; however, we expect that the recommendations may keep changing by the week.” Everybody feels the same way all across the state, so the following recommendation are advised, “If anyone wishes to attend any event this summer, better check websites, facebook, for newspaper reports updates, or contact friends who will already know what is happening.”
Brockway’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July has been planned without the popular main street parade but there will still be the evening fireworks display – this time from the top of Fremer’s Hill at the west end of town instead of coming from along the creek at the park. I like that plan since I can see the top of the hill from my side yard, which should provide a great view for me. Most of the town residents and the nearby countryside should have good seats as well from their places.
Even the Hazen Flea Market is into Coved-19 as they announced, “As we move into the summer, most events on July 4th are being canceled in this whole region. Our county fair has elected to cancel, as we are, The July Flea Market is also canceled. The Flea Market is what sustains the Warsaw Fire Company. Do we like deciding this NO. But like the other events, none of us want to take the chance of being an infection distribution point. Many of our vendors and patrons and volunteers are in the vulnerable categories, if they get infected. We would rather be criticized for taking the safer option, than the negativity we would receive holding a market and potentially infecting hundreds of people.”