On Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton released guidelines for the state’s fairs. Friday, Highland County Agricultural Society Board President Mark Baldwin told The Times-Gazette that the board is waiting to make a decision, but at this time, the Highland County Fair is still on schedule for Sept. 6-12.
“One thing that is helping us is being a later fair,” Baldwin said. “We’re taking a wait-and-see approach. Our plan is to stay on schedule. Even though we postponed a lot of things and changed a little bit, we’re trying to let the next, let’s say, 30 days play out.”
In the meantime, Baldwin said the deadline for exhibitors to be in possession of their fair animals has been extended to July 1.
“Most junior fair animals have to be in possession by June 1. ODA [Ohio Department of Agriculture] extended that until July 1 to give people a lot more time to access and make family plans — whether economic, social or whatever,” Baldwin said.
The deadline to tag fair animals has also been extended.
During a normal year, the board would have already sent out information for those planning to camp at the fairgrounds during the fair, Baldwin said, but the board is waiting to see how the situation changes in the next month or so.
“I really feel sorry for fairs that are nearby. June and July fairs have to make decisions right now,” Baldwin said. “Right now, it’s pretty tough. It doesn’t give a good picture for fair the way it is right now. We’re not canceled — we’re still planning on it; we’re just fortunate that we can take a little more time and let things play out and hopefully we can get to a better position.”
According to Baldwin, the fair board and ODA set the dates for the fair back in December or January, and the ODA is giving counties the option to reschedule their fairs.
According to a four-page document that lays out mandatory and recommended best practice guidelines, DeWine and Acton recommend that Ohio’s agricultural societies “limit fairs to allow only for 4-H and FFA ‘Junior Fair’ activities.” Fair boards also must collaborate with local health departments to ensure fairs meet all mandatory guidelines, executive orders, and Ohio Department of Health orders.
Baldwin told The Times-Gazette that he’d been in contact with Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner, and they’re planning to take a “common sense” approach to the 2020 Highland County Fair.
When possible, DeWine and Acton recommend virtual auctions and judging. They also recommend virtual skillthons.
Mandatory guidelines ask Ohio fair boards to maintain social distancing, thoroughly sanitize high-contact surfaces and facilities, and provide and stock hand-washing stations.
Food concessions and campgrounds must follow guidelines already created for bars, restaurants and campgrounds. Amusement rides should comply with traditional standards as well as hygiene guidelines.
For a full list of fair guidelines, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Find information on the Highland County Fair at highlandcountyfair.org.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.