The Ohio State Fair gates
The Ohio State Fair gates. [Photo by Jo McCulty | Ohio State University]

Ohio State Fair Canceled for 2020 Due to Coronavirus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOSU) — This summer’s Ohio State Fair is the latest event to be scuttled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ohio Expositions Commission voted unanimously on Thursday morning to cancel the 2020 fair, which was scheduled for July 29-August 9 at the fairgrounds in Columbus. Members say it would be too difficult to adhere to social distancing protocols.

“Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans,” said Andy Coehrel, chair of the commission, in a statement. “The financial ramifications of hosting a reduced-capacity Fair would be too great, and we need to protect the Ohio State Fair for future generations.”

Almost 935,000 people attended last year’s Ohio State Fair over its 12-day run.

“It hurts me for cancelling,” fair manager Virgil Strickler said on a press call Thursday. “But it’s the right thing to do. It’s the thing that is going to protect all Ohioans that would come to our fair, and everybody else visitor wise.”

The last time the fair was cancelled was during World War II, from 1942-1945.

“In 1946, we were back,” said Alicia Shoults of the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair. “We’ve unfortunately as a fair been through difficult times as a country through tragedy, through a different type of war, and now the war is against this pandemic, and we’ll be there on the other side.”

This is also not the first time the fair has been cancelled because of disease outbreak: the very first Ohio State Fair was cancelled due to an outbreak of cholera.

The 2021 fair is currently scheduled for July 28-August 8.