Gov. DeWine allows local officials to make decisions on county fairs

Coronavirus

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – Gov. Mike DeWine says each county fair board should work with its local public health department to make a decision about events set for this summer.

While some local leaders have already canceled their fairs, other officials are still working to come to a decision.

Officials announced Wednesday the Montgomery County Fair has been canceled this year.

“It’s a little sad, but we’re just trying to stay positive,” said Taylor Thomas, a junior fair exhibitor.

Thomas has been showing animals at the Montgomery County Fair for more than a decade. But this year, she’ll have a much smaller audience.

Montgomery County’s fair board has opted for an invite-only Junior Fair Livestock Exposition this year for the 4-H and FFA students and their families, as recommended by Gov. DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director.

“For all these kids that have worked so hard since the early months, I think that it’s important to show all that hard work that we’ve been putting in,” Thomas said.

Betty Wingerter, OSU extension educator for 4-H who works with students for the fair, told 2 NEWS cancelling the Montgomery County Fair was a tough decision, but she believes it was the right call.

“We don’t want to be that hotspot, if you will, for more people being ill,” she said.

The Montgomery County Agricultural Society has already lost more than $64,000 from canceled events this year at the fairgrounds, Wingerter said. That funding covers costs for the facilities and fair operations each year, she added.

Dan Bullen, treasurer for the Greene County Fair, told 2 NEWS his fairgrounds has seen an even greater loss.

“Up through this coming May 30, we’ve lost $159,000 in rental income,” he said.

The Greene County fair board will make a decision about this year’s fair by June 15, Bullen said. He said he hopes it can go on – but acknowledges some changes would be needed.

“We won’t have as many food vendors,” Bullen said. “We won’t have as many…sales vendors because we’re going to have to position them in different locations.”

Both fair officials told 2 NEWS they’re looking to come up with ways to recoup the lost revenue this year, which may include community sponsorships and other donations.

The Ohio State Fair has also been canceled this year, according to officials.

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