In-person St. Joseph County 4-H Fair canceled due to coronavirus

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) The in-person St. Joseph County 4-H Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a virtual fair will allow 4-Her’s to exhibit their projects.

It’s a tough year to be a kid.

First school is canceled, now the same goes for the St Joseph County 4-H Fair.

The vote on the fate of the fair was said to be unanimous among some two dozen board members who took part in a virtual meeting last night.

“We had to decide that, you know, we voted that we couldn’t do the fair this year and I mean the tears flowed for people,” said Fair Board President James Caldwell.

The St. Joseph County 4-H Fair was set to be one of the first in the state to start on July 4.

Instead it’s among the first in the state to cancel, although the president says it won’t be the last.

“Trying to social distance everyone, you know, at six foot apart absolutely everywhere. Try and get everyone coming on to the fairgrounds temperature, get their name and phone number?" Caldwell explained.

Caldwell was referring to personal information that would be required from fair goers to do ‘contact tracing’ if an outbreak occurred.

“We’re looking at our emergency evacuation plan, you know, you can’t evacuate people into the structures we have because of social distancing.”

As hard as last night''s decision to cancel may have been on the adults who made it.

“It’s heart breaking to think about the 10-year members or the first year kid that’s been looking forward to showing at the fair,” Caldwell said. “It was impossible. I mean it’s simply impossible.”

Planning has already begun on a virtual version of the fair, designed to provide a way for kids to show their animals and projects.

Caldwell says most of the entertainment events are being re-booked for next year’s fair.

From the St. Joseph County Fair Board:

With the best interest and safety of our St. Joseph County 4-H members, who have endured so much loss in recent months, The St. Joseph County Fair Board made the heart wrenching decision to cancel an in person fair for 2020.

The St. Joseph County Fair Board reviewed every stipulation outlined in Governor Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana plan and additional safety requirements to host in-person events distributed by Purdue University this past weekend. These requirements include, but are not limited to social distancing in buildings, barns, concessionaire and midway areas, face masks, PPE, temperatures of every person on the fairgrounds and additional contract tracing of all patrons. Given these strict rules, we have determined it is not financially or logistically feasible to safely host an in person fair this year. We do not feel that we can ensure safety in a socially distanced setting.

We want to emphasize that 4-H is NOT canceled. We will be hosting a virtual fair to allow 4-Her’s to exhibit their projects and their efforts still be recognized. This decision came as a result of the social distancing requirements and inability to utilize exhibit halls, barns and show arenas. We are also still exploring options as a way to recognize our 10 year members, who are completing their 4-H career this year. More information will come from St. Joseph County Purdue Extension in the coming days and weeks.

Please know, this decision did not come lightly. This is the most emotionally difficult decision the Fair Board has ever had to make. We look forward to being together in person again in 2021, and plan to come back stronger than ever.