Why did the Scioto County Fair Board decide to cancel the 2020 Fair? Were they overreacting to the Coronavirus threat? Turns out that the real reasons are more complicated than you might think. According to Scioto County Commissioners, the board didn’t really have a choice.
Commissioner Bryan Davis called the decision “sad.”
“I’ve had a little bit of time to absorb that. A lot of people are very sad that it’s happened. To my knowledge we’ve never not had a fair. There were a lot of judgmental statements made. I think a lot of unfair statements were made. Unless you’re sitting in their seats it’s hard to know.”
Let’s break down the complicated reasons behind the controversial choice to shut down the fair.
Lots Of Vistors
Businesses can expect an economic hit from the loss of fair visitors. But it turns out that those visitors coming into the county are part of the problem. Commissioner Davis explained, “We have a lot of people that come to our area. People could come into our area from hot spots.”
So fair, Scioto County has been largely spared from Coronavirus infections. Our current case count stands at 14. But fears about the spread of the virus were not the deciding factor.
Bad Weather Blues
Money was already tight for the Fair Board. Partly due to weather the past few years and partly due to Ohio’s stay-at-home order. Hot weather caused visitors to stay home. Heavy rains forced the cancellation of events.
Davis said, “We’ve had super hot weather. We’ve had rains. Without the Trade Days they wouldn’t be able to break even.” That leads to the next problem.
Cancelled Trade Days & Flea Market
Trade Days and flea markets held at the fairgrounds are the moneymaker that keeps the fair going. Ohio’s shutdown has shut down flea markets and at least one Trade Days event. Commissioners fear the shutdown will also cancel the June event. However, on their Facebook page, the Trade Days organizers are still holding out some hope for June.
“Our next Lucasville Trade Days event is scheduled for June 13 & 14. Let’s pray that the Covid-19 pandemic is passed by then, and we’ll be allowed to operate the show. See you there!”
The other problem was the question of entertainment.
With the finances and the end of Ohio’s lockdown up in the air, it was difficult to book entertainment. Entertainers book their dates months in advance. Commissioner Mike Crabtree pointed out that once you make a deal, you must pay.
“The entertainment, they have to book them in advance, once you book them if you have to cancel, you still have to pay.”
When heavy rains wiped out shows at the fairgrounds, the board still had to pay for the entertainers.
But what really put the nail in the fair coffin may surprise you. According to Crabtree, it was Ohio’s decision to furlough certain government workers.
Furloughed Ride Inspectors
Among the many state employees furloughed due to COVID-19 budget cuts are ride inspectors. It’s illegal to set up carnival rides without a state inspection. According to Commissioner Mike Crabtree:
“Unfortunately because of the action of the State of Ohio in furloughing the ride inspectors, that kind of killed that.”
The Fair Board couldn’t book rides without the ability to inspect them. While Crabtree has often had harsh words about the shutdown, he offered nothing but sympathy for the Fair board.
Junior Fair Plans
The Fair Board is still looking at ways to put on a Junior Fair for 4-H members. Crabtree said, “Right now they’ve been desperately trying to figure out what they can do. It’s gonna be kind of hard to have a fair, even a junior fair without concessions to feed people.”
Commissioner Davis says he expects to hear about the plans for a Junior Fair in the next few weeks. He also points out that Scioto County is not alone. “Other counties are making this difficult decision as well.”