The Meigs County Fair, including the livestock shows such as the 2019 Dairy Show Alyssa Richards is seen participating in, have been in question for 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Carrie Gloeckner.

Meigs County Fair Moving Ahead as Governor Finally Releases COVID-19 Guidance for Fairs

POMEROY, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has finally released guidelines and input for fairs and festivals across the state. Many fairs and festivals have been forced to cancel due to the delayed response from Governor DeWine. The Meigs County Fair is not one. The Meigs County Agricultural Society has continued to move forward with the fair planned for August 17-22, 2020.

With the guidelines being released and with Governor DeWine kicking back the specifics to local health departments, both the Meigs County Health Department and the Meigs County Agricultural Society are looking to see what requirements will need to be met for the fair to happen this year.

“Although I am very disappointed with the state level of government and timing to present these guidelines for the upcoming fair, we will do our best to find the most practical and feasible way to move forward with the 2020 Meigs County Fair in the following weeks. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and the MIP for any updates,” stated Wesley Karr, president of the Meigs County Agricultural Society.

Meigs County Fair parade. File photo. Meigs Independent Press photo.

Brody Davis, public information officer with the Meigs County Health Department, stated upon hearing of the guidelines, “The Meigs County Health Department learned of the governor’s intentions on county fairs to be made at the local level during his May 27th press conference. We will be working with the Meigs County Fair Board after reviewing the guidelines set forth by the State of Ohio, which will be released today, to ensure the compliance can be met. The Meigs County Health Department has been a long time supporter of the county fair and will work with the fair board to ensure these guidelines are followed.”

The Ohio Fair Managers Association, of which the Meigs County Agricultural Society is a member, had been trying to work for months with Governor DeWine to come up with guidelines that were feasible for fairs including the vendors associated with those events. Ohio Fair Managers Association President Rod Arter and past president Howard Call have also been serving on the Governor’s Fair Advisory Group for COVID-19. According to a statement from the Governor DeWine’s office, “The guidelines focus on maintaining social distancing, limiting crowds, ensuring the health of everyone involved in the junior fair activities, and animal care and welfare.“

“The decisions about county and independent fairs need to be made locally because each county and independent fair is unique and has different challenges,” said Governor DeWine. “Conditions may change over the course of the summer, however, we are asking all fair boards to comply with all of the orders of the Ohio Department of Health and the guidelines for other sectors that would also apply to fairs, such as for food service and rides.”

Meigs County Fair file photo. Meigs Independent Press photo.

The issue for many fairs, however, is not wanting to do something for youth, but being able to afford to. Governor DeWine has focused on junior fair activities which do play a major role in many fairs in Ohio including the Meigs County Fair. The issue facing fair boards across the state is making money at the gate. Gate admission is the main revenue source for fairs. The county fair is more than just the junior fair portion. It is comprised of the senior fair as well. Without entertainment, rides and other related events to draw attendance, financial impacts for fairs across the state may mean some fairs can not financially recover. Many have opted to not hold fairs this year. The Meigs County Agricultural Society has chosen, as of this publishing, to continue to move forward.

This year’s fair theme is “American Flair at the Meigs County Fair.” Each year the theme is chosen by the Meigs County Junior Fair Board. As more information becomes available on scheduling and the latest information on the Meigs County Fair, the Meigs Independent Press will have it.

The guidelines for fairs released by Governor DeWine’s office:

Fair COVID-19 guidelines, page 1.
Fair COVID-19 guidelines, page 2.
Fair COVID-19 guidelines, page 3.
Fair COVID-19 guidelines, page 4.