Ohio updates guidelines for county fairs, loosening some restrictions

The Ohio Department of Health released updated guidelines for county fairs this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The updated guidelines allow for livestock competitions to be held “in the same manner as they have in the past” with some exceptions that also apply to auctions.

>>RELATED: Clark County reveals plans for fair

The exceptions include participants, judges and spectators maintaining six feet apart as possible, judges wearing masks and microphones being sanitized after each use.

Additionally, spectators are permitted with family members given priority and families to group together and maintain six feet from other families.

“The changes were developed to encourage junior fairs while making health and safety protocols easy to understand for county fair boards,” Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, said in an emailed statement.

Previous guidelines did not permit animals to be in the ring for auctions, and they were interpreted as requiring shows to be held only classes of nine or less and no spectators to satisfy a state ban on gatherings of more than 10 people that remains in effect until July 1.

Now spectators are also allowed at grandstand events with the crowd being limited to half the grandstand capacity and not to exceed 2,500.

The new guidelines also call for barns and buildings to “be open as much as possible to allow good ventilation.”

Before and since the original guidelines were announced May 28, many counties in the area or nearby decided to hold only a junior fair of some type.

That group includes Clark, Madison, Montgomery, Butler and Warren counties.

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A Champaign County Fair "as normal as possible" is on tap for August 7-14 while Clinton and Logan Counties have also announced their mid-July fairs are hopeful of being as close to full fairs as possible.

Greene County announced Tuesday night its plans to hold a modified fair the first week of August in Xenia.

Darke and Miami Counties previously indicated hopes their late-August fairs could also be close to full fairs.

The Ohio State Fair was canceled last month.

DeWine said in May he was hoping counties would be able to hold at least junior fairs.