COLUMBUS — The State Controlling Board has approved a $4.7 million plan to support Ohio’s county and independent fairs who have faced uncertainty due to COVID-19.
Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), along with Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Speaker Larry Householder recently announced a plan to allow fairs to safely open and operate this summer. The Controlling Board approved $4.7 million in funding on Monday to help ensure that fairs can continue this summer.
“Ohio’s fairs showcase our vibrant agricultural communities and mark a year of hard work and preparation by so many of our young people involved in 4-H and FFA,” said President Obhof. “We worked hard to ensure that these events would go on this summer and that families could have a safe but fun experience across Ohio.”
Last week, state leaders announced the plan, which is designed to help county fairs open this year and support youth involved in junior fair activities such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
The Gallia County Fair Board announced earlier this month that the 2020 Gallia County Junior Fair would consist of one-day shows for exhibitors to show and sell their livestock projects.
“Fairs across Ohio and the country continue to struggle with the decision of what to do about their respective fairs,” Fair Board Secretary Tim Massie’s statement said. “The Fair Board has decided to provide an opportunity for our exhibitors to show and display the projects that are the result of this year’s work. This year’s Gallia County Junior Fair will not be like the fairs of recent years. In fact, it may more resemble the very first edition of the fair back in the ’50s. The current plan for the 2020 fair is to have a series of one day shows during the week of the fair where projects could be shown, judged, and market projects sold. The breeding show before the fair would also proceed as planned. We are also planning on allowing small animal projects.”
Massie said some of the things that fair goers will not see at the 2020 fair include stage events, rides and games. Massie said at this time, the board is hoping to have food concessions at the fair.
To allow fairs to operate in a safe manner consistent with good health practices, each fair that conducts a junior fair this year will receive $50,000, while those that do not will receive $15,000 that can be used towards next year’s fair.
Local fair boards who had already announced cancellations in 2020 can apply for a new date with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, if they would like to go forward this year. At least one county fair has already reversed its prior cancellation and is going forward with this year’s fair under the new and more flexible guidelines.
More information on safety guidelines for Ohio’s fairs can be found here, https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/County-Fairs.pdf. For a list of all Ohio county and independent fairs, visit www.ohiofairs.org.
A portion of the information provided by the offices of State Rep. Jay Edwards and State Senator Frank Hoagland. Ohio Valley Publishing Staff Journalist Kayla Hawthorne contributed to this report.
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