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Monroe Joins Growing List Of Counties Canceling Fairs

Residents walking through the county fair.

(Adam Pinsker, WTIU/WFIU News)

There’s still no word on whether Indiana’s state fair will go on as planned, but several counties have already cancelled their fairs. Bartholomew, Dubois and Monroe counties are just a few of the places that have decided instead to have virtual fairs. 

Many fair organizers say they’re cancelling in person events this year out of an abundance of caution.

The Monroe County Fair is cancelled for this year. The County Fair Board and the County 4-H Board voted today to cancel the event. In a statement the Fair Board cited safety concerns for visitors, vendors and exhibitors.

“The uncertainty around planning for large gatherings, as well as the concerns regarding proper implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols at such a large venue, also contributed to the very difficult decision to cancel this beloved community event. The Fair Board is working to contact vendors, commercial exhibitors and other entities which had planned to participate in the 2020 fair.”

The 4-H Board of Directors is planning a virtual event to let kids showcase their fair projects. The Board says the details for that event have not been finalized.

Amy Thompson heads the Purdue Extension Office in Monroe County, which is tasked with administering 4-H programs. She says while not all leaders were in agreement, there was an overwhelming consensus that the rapidly changing situation made it difficult to plan.

"So much uncertainty around whether mass gatherings will be allowed and what numbers might be associated with those gatherings when they are allowed."

The Monroe County Fair is typically held around the end of June and the beginning of July.

READ MORE: Bloomington Officially Cancels Fourth Of July Parade, Postpones Pool Openings

Kelly Martin is a parent of two 4-H students who planned on participating in this year’s fair.  While she understands the decision is difficult she hopes the conversation can continue.

"The counties either one don’t have the financial resources to do what they are requesting or don’t have the volunteer capacity to handle it and a lot of county fairs aren’t able to do it," she says.

Martin worries this could have a long-term effect on many counties.

"The bad thing of it is, Indiana has great county fairs all over the state of Indiana," she says. "They are a great tradition and they are looked forward to every year and I’m afraid that with this, this could be the death of a lot of county 4-H Fairs."

That's becuase many counties rely on revenue from the pervious year to host next year's events.

The Indiana State Fair says they will continue montioring the sitaution and provide additional updates. That comes just after neighboring Ohio announced this week it was cancelling its state fair. 

This story has been updated.

Brock Turner contributed to this piece.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

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