What’s the appropriate social distance to keep yourself safe from catching COVID-19? At the Butler County Fair, signs lay it out – stay one cow apart, please.
The fair opened Saturday with conspicuously 2020 changes: No rides and about half the usual number of games and concession stands. Young 4-H livestock exhibitors wore masks as they led their animals around the show ring.
Fair organizers were determined to make it happen for their sake, Butler County Agricultural Society president Doug Turner said.
“We’re here for the kids,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”
They’ll likely lose money in the effort. The agricultural society depends on the summer fair to support the fairgrounds and its other events for the remaining 51 weeks of the year.
“All of our rentals that rented our event center have canceled for the year,” Turner said. “So we have no income there. It’s going to be a very tough year for all the fairs in the state of Ohio.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made that certain early in the year. Some fairs were canceled outright; others opened but defied Ohio Department of Health safety guidelines, sickening attendees in the process. Health officials said 19 people had contracted the virus after attending the Pickaway County Fair.
Turner said the Butler County Fair is being careful to observe the guidelines, spacing out seating and providing masks and hand sanitizer throughout the grounds.
Mike Neal, one of the fair’s food vendors, said he’s probably in the same financial situation as the Butler County Agricultural Society.
He’s not taking it too hard.
“If you’re here because you love what you do and you want to help the kids and also help your business get the name out—that’s why I’m here,” he said.
The fair will be open to the public every evening, starting at 5 p.m., until Aug. 2.