More clarity for fair

More clarity for fair

by Craig Lovelace

CIRCLEVILLE — The Pickaway County fair board is expected to unveil Monday its plan for a modified fair that will meet the recommended safety guidelines by the state and meant to address concerns about COVID-19.

Some of those guidelines are posted on the website of the Pickaway County Agriculture Society but were elaborated on more fully Thursday by Pickaway County Public Health that has been working with the society’s senior fair board for the past month. 

The fair begins June 20 and runs through June 27 and most likely will look different than fairs of the past. Fair boards across Ohio have had to make difficult decisions regarding their individual fairs. As recently as mid-May, Pickaway County’s fair board was hoping for a full fair.

Among the modifications that fairgoers may likely see include: no amusement rides, limited food vendors, limited campground use, curbing a building’s capacity to half its maximum limit, no congregating in barns, 72-hour limit for individual animals to be on the grounds, ramping up staff, and paying to have restrooms cleaned twice daily. The fair board must officially approve any measures.

The health department’s director of nursing Susan Foster also said that social distancing will be employed while fair workers must wear face coverings and get assessed for coronavirus symptoms daily. Those assessments, she said, also apply to fairgoers. Foster said the assessments are very broad and fit with what state guidelines recommend.

“I would interpret it as anyone coming in,” she said.

The fair board, while proactive in tackling the overall issue, has demurred talking in length about the modifications until its monthly meeting Monday, 12 days before the fair opens. Pickaway joins its immediate neighbors – Franklin, Fayette and Ross counties – in offering a modified fair.

Public health released a statement indicating that a consensus was reached on the modifications during a meeting Thursday with the county commissioners, the senior fair board and the sheriff’s office. 

The fair board maintained its silence when asked about the meeting.

“Nothing is finalized until the board votes at the meeting on Monday. Lots of moving parts and things in motion that are changing frequently as we go through the process to assure all state mandated requirements are planned for,” board Secretary Christy Pence said.

The meeting participants also discussed a hog show that took place last weekend and led to 30 to 40 complaints to public health about the traffic and crowds. The Pickaway County Swine Shootout is one of several such shows developed by the Ohio Pork Council. 

Foster said there was confusion about the show primarily because the organizer was Mark List, who also is a member of the Pickaway County fair board. When they first talked, Foster said List identified himself as a board member in a call a few weeks before the swine show. She said she thought he was talking about the county fair, adding she became aware of the hog show two days before it started.

List was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

“We were kind of put in a predicament,” she said. “We had a lot of people from the outside looking in and from the outside, it did not look good.”

However, Foster said the group pretty much abided by suggestions from public health that included limited registration wearing masks inside the show building and daily symptom assessments during the three-day show. A second show, OH-Pigs, The Ohio Summer Show, is scheduled for this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Amber Kipp at Unsplash.

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