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Iowa State Fair cancels amid COVID-19 concerns

For the first time since World War II, the Iowa State Fair will not be held.

For the first time since World War II, the Iowa State Fair will not be held this August. The Iowa State Fair Board met this afternoon and decided that because of COVID-19 concerns, holding the fair wouldn’t be feasible.

In a statement, fair officials said, “The Iowa State Fair’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, exhibitors, and entertainers. Amid the pandemic, we couldn’t, in good conscience, put on the Fair when we knew access to emergency safety services at the Fair could be limited, public transportation to and from the Fair would not be possible, the constant sanitization of a seemingly infinite amount of high-touch surfaces lacked feasibility, and social distancing in lines to get your favorite Fair food or walking the Grand Concourse would be difficult. While we can’t predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in August, we can make educated decisions based on information and guidance available today from health. Waiting any longer to make a decision would have been more potentially damaging to our great Fair partners and our planning.”

The decision comes after some entertainment acts scheduled to perform during the fair canceled, and after a number of county fairs in Iowa either canceled or scaled back.

In Warren County, for example, the fair will not be held as usual, with no entertainment, rides, concessions, camping, or open class shows. However, 4-H and FFA livestock shows will still be held on a “show and go” basis, where animals are brought to the fair, shown, and taken home the same day. 

Social distancing guidelines will be in place in Warren County, and the board has yet to determine whether spectators will be allowed and whether there will be an auction afterward. “4-H & FFA members should be working to market their animals and obtain locker dates,” the Warren County Fair Board said on its website. No packer buyer will be available for hogs, but that is an option for those showing sheep and goats.

Other Midwest states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, North Dakota, and Ohio have also canceled, in addition to others nationwide.

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