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Over the weekend, ODH extended social distancing guidelines and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people through July 1, a move that did not cement the board’s decision but made it feel like the risk of going forward with plans for a full fair might be greater.
“Let’s say middle of July, there’s a COVID-19 outbreak or something changes in the governmental laws and all the sudden we cannot have a fair and charge admission,” Blair said. This would put the fair in a position of instead of losing about $75,000 to $100,000, they could lose around $400,000, he added.
The projected cost of holding a limited fair accounts for utilities, judging fees, manure removal and an anticipated increase in sanitation practices.
Blair said the board has not decided yet if it will charge for admission, and it is still working out the logistics of livestock shows.
The latter could include smaller classes, at least in the case of some species, because of the social distancing requirements and the ban on large gatherings that may or may not still be in place at that time.
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State regulations and guidelines for county fairs released last week call for auctions to be held without the animal present, which may make holding them entirely online a more desirable option according to Blair.
The internet has already been the realm of most 4-H activities this year according to Ohio State Extension educator for Clark County Patty House.
In addition to coordinating plans for a virtual 4-H camp to be held in late June, House has hosted 18 quality assurance sessions via online video chats while other project committee volunteers have hosted clincis and workshops as well.
“Clark County 4-H is collaborating with the Clark County Fair Board to provide opportunities for youth to showcase their 4-H projects at a junior-fair-only fair for 2020,” House said.
Pre-fair judging of projects and animal skillathons are still set for July 14-17 .
“Both face-to-face and virtual options are being planned with final decisions on which format to be used later in June depending on current Ohio health orders,” House said.
The fair will have some food vendors, though not nearly as many as the usual 60-some according to Blair.
A person interested in stopping in for some fair food is likely to be able to do that, but whether or not they could also watch a livestock show while on the grounds remains to be seen. That will likely be determined by whether the ban on large gatherings has been lifted.
Clark County is just the latest fair board to announce plans for holding only a junior fair, joining Madison, Montgomery, Butler and Warren counties.
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The Champaign County Fair Board has a meeting scheduled Thursday at which time the fate of that event could be decided, and the Greene County Fair is set for a decision to be made June 15.
Representatives from Miami and Darke told the Dayton Daily News they are holding out hope for a full fairs, but they have more time to wait to decide since those fairs are not until August.
That is a luxury not afforded to Clark County, the birthplace of 4-H, where the shortened fair is scheduled to be held sometime during the original dates of July 24-31.
“And so it’s really a matter of good few fiduciary responsibility of trying to make sure that we are here to do the next 200 fairs that we have to make a reasonable and careful decision, and that’s why you’re seeing all these fairs do that,” Blair said. “They have to make reasonable, careful decisions right now of how they fulfill their duties as best they can, but do it in the scope of COVID-19, and in a time when it is just impossible to manage the financial situation of a fair.”