The Athens County Fair miday
Athens County Fair, August 2018 [WOUB File Photo}

Board Plans For Modified 2020 Athens Co. Fair

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — This year’s Athens County Fair will be happening, despite some changes due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Athens County Fair Board held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss plans for a modified fair that takes the pandemic and social distancing measures into account.

The board announced several modifications to maintain social distancing rules from Gov. Mike Dewine, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Athens City-County Health Department.

Overall, the fair will still offer classic fair favorites such as livestock judging, rides, Jr. fair, vendors, live music, games, and baking contests. Food vendors will be held to the same standards as restaurants and bars in Ohio. Furthermore, there will also still be a Kid’s Day and a Senior Day.

Some of the canceled events include the barn dance, which was decided among 4H children themselves. Other events may be modified. For example, all judges will be required to wear a mask.

“As we approach the fair, we’ll come up with more best practices,” Athens County Fair Board President Calvin Jarvis said. “We hope to provide the safest environment possible.”

Jarvis and other board members say planning for the fair is an ongoing process with so many and often changes in recommendations and guidelines concerning COVID but they’re working to provide a safe fair for all to attend.

While some are concerned about exposure to COVID, others are concerned about losing the opportunity to showcase and sell their animals.

One community member at the meeting said the children involved in 4-H work harder on their animals than some adults with full-time jobs, and they deserve to showcase that work during the fair.

There are also economic opportunities at risk for families.

“Most of our 4-H kids that sell their animals,” Jarvis said. “That money is used to buy school clothes, to support their families.”

Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or those with weak immune systems, are strongly encouraged to stay at home.

“We understand and recognize the vulnerability in some people. We’re going to do everything in our power to protect social distancing,” Jarvis said.

The board plans to release a full schedule of events for the fair in the upcoming weeks.

The annual fair will take place between August 7 and 15.