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County fair canceled amid pandemic

LISBON — Fairs around the state have had tough decisions to make regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. On one hand, the state is taking steps to get back to a sense of normalcy. On the other hand, the health of the residents of the county is the first priority.

With the county fair getting closer, the Columbiana County Agricultural Society held a Zoom meeting on Wednesday to discuss the decision of whether to cancel the fair or not.

Due to the evolving situation revolving the virus, the agricultural society decided to cancel the 2020 Columbiana County Fair. After seeking counsel from the county health department and state and national health agencies, they decided that cancellation was the best decision to reduce the cycle of infection.

Another factor was the society’s fiscal responsibility, as they had no idea what the fair would look like in terms of attendance.

“Unfortunately, we will be canceling the 2020 fair,” John Wolf, the fair board president, said. “It’s a sad day for all of us. But, in light of the current restrictions and mandatory requirements, this puts a substantial fiscal responsibility on the board. While some of us don’t think there is anything to the virus, there are still others who have a great concern.”

The county fair is not the first fair in the state to cancel, and Wolf said he doesn’t believe they will be the last. The Ohio State Fair and the Trumbull County Fair officials canceled their fairs. The Canfield Fair officials have decided to implement tighter restrictions, but they are attempting to hold their fair.

“The impact of the fair’s cancellation will be felt far beyond the loss of our annual celebration,” Wolf said in a press release. “We are heartbroken for the youth, family farms, small businesses, competitors and exhibitors, community outreach groups and all who rely on the income and exposure that the Columbiana County Fair brings them.”

More than 50 participants were in on the meeting, which began with a passionate speech from Emre Gott, the 2019 Poultry and Waterfowl Ambassador, who stated why he believed the 175th annual fair should have been held.

“Everyone is doubting the fair when it is clearly possible and can be a whole bunch of fun for the kids,” Gott said. “We can still show and sell animals. All anybody wants to do is create situations that haven’t happened yet and be more worried than we need to be.”

The agricultural nature of the county fair means that many 4-H kids won’t have a chance to move forward with their projects. While the fair is offering the senior 4-H kids the opportunity to show their animals next year, Gott believes that many of those kids will move on by then, attending college or having a job.

Moving forward, provided the COVID-19 situation improves to the point where it is safe to hold mass gatherings, the fair will return in 2021, as the agricultural society is dedicated to supporting the community.

“We look forward to brighter better days ahead when we can gather again to celebrate all that is exceptional about Columbiana County,” Wolf said. “Until then, stay safe, be well, be kind and support each other. We’ll miss you all.”

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