CEDARVILLE — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a veto on Monday to a bill which would have rescinded a July 2020 health order which limited fairs to only junior fair activities due to COVID-19 concerns.
Amended Senate Bill 375 would have voided the order regarding the county fairs and created an Agricultural Society Working Group for 2021. Senate Bill 375 was sponsored by Senators Frank Hoagland and Tim Schaffer.
In his veto message, DeWine stated, “As the 2021 fair season is set to begin in June, my administration will continue to consult with health professionals on the state and local level. It is imperative that such fairs be conducted in a safe manner that reflect the facts on the ground at the time.”
The Governor noted that any modifications to the order or rescinding it should be made in consultation with health professionals.
“As these discussions occur, it is also essential to consult with the General Assembly and the local fair boards throughout Ohio. I look forward to their invaluable input as we anticipate the 2021 fair season. However, a blanket rescission of the current Order does not achieve the goal of working together to properly plan the upcoming fair season while ensuring the public health and protection of the people of Ohio. Therefore, it is reasonable and necessary for the current Order to remain in effect while these collaborative efforts occur,” stated the veto message.
During his news conference on Tuesday, DeWine was asked what the veto would mean for the 2021 county fairs.
“It means that we have no idea where we are going to be as a state when our first fair kicks off this year,” said DeWine.
“It is my hope … that our fairs will open and will be completely open. I don’t know where we will be at that point,” added DeWine. “I will do everything I can to see fairs open but it has to be done safely.”
DeWine noted, in the veto message, that in 2020 his office and the legislature worked together to help the fairs financially during the 2020 season and that many county and independent fairs “stepped up to the plate”, working with local health departments to ensure safe fairs.
In 2020, both Meigs and Gallia Counties held scaled back Junior Fairs which allowed for animal shows and the livestock sale to continue, among other things. Details of the 2021 fairs have not yet been released.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.