Log In

Reset Password

County fairs mull whether to hold summer festivities

Local fairs must soon make a tough decision whether to hold their respective events with the threat of the coronavirus still very real.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, local fair organizers have been forced to mull if the risks of holding their popular community events outweigh the rewards.

Take the Schuylkill County Fair, for instance, which is scheduled to run July 27-Aug. 1 at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds in Schuylkill Haven.

The Schuylkill County Fair Board most recently met May 21, according to fair President Paul Kennedy.

Kennedy said the board was waiting to see what came out of the governor’s further directive on the green phase per his amended order as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We are kind of in a holding pattern,” Kennedy said. “We asked for some clarity from the governor’s order, and are waiting for that guidance.”

Kennedy said the board has scheduled a special meeting June 8 “to reconvene and reevaluate where we are.”

“We have a lot of options that are on the table right now,” he said. “At this point, we are waiting for guidance from governmental entities and our insurance carrier.”

Kennedy squashed hearsay that this year’s event has been canceled.

“There are rumors out there that the Schuylkill County Fair has canceled,” he said. “But, that has not happened.”

As things advance, Kennedy said the fair will continue to consider all its options.

“We’re glad to see, as all fairs are, that we finally have a directive for the green phase,” he said. “And being stewards of the community, we will fall in line with what their directives are, but we have asked for some clarification on a couple of things as we are weighing our options.”

So, too, is the Carbon County Fair, according to fair President Robert Silliman.

Silliman said a decision on the fair, set to run Aug. 3-8 at the fairgrounds on Little Gap Road in Palmerton, will be made soon.

“A decision on whether we’re going to run or not will be made June 8,” Silliman said. “I’m certainly hoping we can run, but it’s going to be up to the board.”

It’s much the same for the West End Fair, according to fair President Dale Greenzweig Jr.

Greenzweig said the fair, scheduled to be held Aug. 23-29 on Fairgrounds Road in Gilbert, could still possibly be held.

“As of right now, we did not cancel,” Greenzweig said. “We’re just waiting to see what the governor is going to allow and not allow.”

Greenzweig noted that per Gov. Tom Wolf’s new order on Wednesday, fairs/festivals cannot have more than 250 people attend.

“Hopefully, the next couple months that would change,” he said.

Through it all, Greenzweig said the fair has maintained solid financial footing, according to the chairman of the fair’s sponsorship committee.

“Financially we’re stable,” he said. “Most everybody that was a sponsor last year is a sponsor again, plus picked up a few more.”

As time marches on, Greenzweig said the fair will continue to take a day-by-day approach.

“We’re just hoping for the best, and waiting to see what local health and the governor decides and (see if they) adopt a new order,” he said. “Nobody knows at this point.”

Gov. Wolf’s green phase order issued Wednesday says any gathering for a planned or spontaneous event of greater than 250 people is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, a concert, festival, fair, conference, sporting event, movie showing, or theater performance.

Last Saturday, the Pennsylvania 4-H Penn State Extension announced that all in-person 4-H events and activities were canceled through Oct. 1.

The group noted that internal conversations regarding the safest path forward are ongoing and will reflect the fluid nature of the pandemic, and that to provide the safest route forward, an abundance of caution was used in making the announcement.