Schuylkill County fair canceled for 2020
The Schuylkill County Fair board announced Wednesday that the annual event is canceled for 2020.
This year, the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs adopted the theme of “Making memories
one fair at a time,” the fair said in a release. “The Schuylkill County Fair has been making memories in our community for the past 37 years, and year 38 will certainly be one for the record books.”
“Over the last few months, the world has dealt with many issues connected to the COVID-19 virus. As a Nation, we mourn for the dead, care for the sick and work diligently to keep the healthy free of the virus,” said the news release. “Every state across the nation has individually determined how they will respond to this pandemic, disseminating mandates and regulations to their residents as they see fit.”
Since March, the fair association has held a series of virtual board meetings with the Foundation for Agriculture and Resource Management.
At a special meeting held on Monday the board decided to cancel the fair.
“The fair as we know it takes year-round planning, weeks of grounds preparation and support from dozens of partner organizations, businesses, and agencies,” the association said.
The association listed a number of problems that contributed to the decision:
• In October, the fairgrounds had significant flooding which caused severe infrastructure damage slated to be fixed in the spring. When the construction industry was shut down, many of the repairs were delayed.
• The 4H and FFA programs have been working to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the restriction of in-person activities.
• Sponsors who have donated to the fair for decades are facing financial shortfalls as they work to reopen their businesses from the government-ordered shutdowns.
• Vendors who rent midway space to exhibit and sell their products have no product to showcase as the nation recovers from a supply chain interruption.
• The fair faces a massive insurance premium while already losing half of their season’s events as income.
“We as an association have been given strict marching orders from our insurance carrier with considerable financial implications for noncompliance,” the release said.
• There is still uncertainty of when gatherings of 250 people or more would be allowed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The fair welcomes over 35,000 guests annually. With the staff, vendors, and exhibitors, the number of allowed guests per day would be minimal at best.
“Our weeklong fair is supported by the proceeds from year-round fundraising efforts and property rentals,” the fair said. “The negative financial impact caused by pre-fair revenue loss is crippling to our budget. As mentioned, for some sponsors there is still uncertainty and for others there is a complete inability to remain
committed this year.”
“Additionally, the significant financial outlay that must occur in the weeks leading up to the fair could never be recuperated if we were ultimately not permitted to operate or were forced to do so at such a reduced capacity. A loss of that magnitude could result in years of recovery efforts.”
“Our goal every year is to enhance your experience when visiting the fair. We do not feel it is in the best interest of you, our valued guests, or ourselves, to offer you an event that is subpar or completely downscaled. We are not in the business of doing things halfway. We want you to get our very best, 100%
of the time.”
Vendors who had committed to the 2020 fair will be contacted by the vendor coordinator to discuss options for the 2021 fair. The 2021 fair is scheduled Aug. 2-7.
“To borrow a statement made by the Minnesota State Fair, ‘….we need to make decisions now based upon what we know today, not how we hope things will be in August,’?” the release concluded.