Coronavirus: Group working to devise plan for county fairs to be held in some form this summer

Governor Mike DeWine talks with Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax-Wilt Monday at the Clark County Fair. DeWine stopped by to see his granddaughter, who was showing her goat at the Fair. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Governor Mike DeWine talks with Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax-Wilt Monday at the Clark County Fair. DeWine stopped by to see his granddaughter, who was showing her goat at the Fair. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A working group is trying to determine what county fairs might look like if they are to take place this year, but Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has an idea.

“What I’m suggesting at least right now is fairboards start thinking about how they can conduct a junior fair,” he said. “How they can retain the essence of fairs, which is the competition with livestock and other 4-H projects. How they can do that and protect people, which would mean certainly the fair would look in all likelihood different, but it seems to me counties ought to be able to figure out how to conduct that junior fair.”

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That could mean fairs with livestock shows and displays of arts, crafts and cooking projects but no rides or other entertainment, such as concerts, calf scrambles, tractor pulls and demolition derbies.

“Some things will be different,” said DeWine, who suggested the possibility of holding livestock auctions online, “but the essence of the fair is really the kids and the competition.”

Ohio is under a stay-at-home order through May 29, two weeks before the first agricultural fair of the year is scheduled to begin in Paulding County.

The Montgomery County Fair is scheduled for July 12-18 with Warren, Butler and Clark County all set for later in July.

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The Greene County Fair, known as the oldest west of the Allegheny Mountains and the home fair of DeWine, is set for Aug. 2-8 with Preble, Champaign, Miami and Darke counties also all scheduled for August.

Last month, Clark County fairboard director Dean Blair told this news organization the board was still planning a full fair and would not make a decision on potential changes until July 1.

So far, one fair has been canceled. Marion County announced its fair, which was to be June 29-July 4, will not take place, but there are plans to allow exhibitors to show projects in some form or fashion in the second half of July.

In a phone interview with this news organization, DeWine stressed all plans are subject to change due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic, which has already been associated with more than 1,100 deaths in Ohio this year.

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