This year’s Butler County Fair won’t have rides or access to the barns other than 4-H participants and their families, but there still will be things to do for attendees, fair organizers said.
The fair, which was established in 1851, runs from 5 to 9 p.m. today through Thursday, July 30, then 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 31, at 1715 Fairgrove Ave., Hamilton.
Vendors for food and games will be on site, including locals like Flub’s Ice Cream and Neal’s Famous BBQ, said Doug Turner, president of the Butler County Fair Board. But with the fair expecting reduced crowd size due to its inability to offer rides under state regulations, about half the amount of vendors as previous years will be present.
“COVID guidelines changed hourly, what you can and can’t do,” he said. “When we originally set up to do (the fair), the thought was that we’d get some of the public, because we had a lot of people calling and saying ‘Hey, all we care about is the fair food. We wait a year to come eat our fair food.‘
“We’re trying to keep the junior fair kids happy, and we’re trying to keep the public happy, as well as trying not to bankrupt the fairgrounds, is what we’re trying to do.”
The food will be present, but so will COVID-19 precautions in accordance with health department guidelines, Turner said. Those who can adhere to six-foot social distancing will be permitted to enter the fairgrounds, but whenever that is not possible, masks must be worn. That would exclude those with health issues that preclude them from wearing a mask, he said.
Those who are showing an animal at the fair or are a related to someone who is doing so may enter the barns, but those areas are off-limits to the general public. That includes all 4-H events, even the ones that take place in the evening and might have drawn a crowd of onlookers in previous years, he said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine admonished fair managers across the state Wednesday for what he saw as evidence the state’s guidelines for holding fairs this summer are not being followed at some county fairs.
They were meant to discourage large gatherings but allow projects to be shown and sold in similar fashion to a normal year with exceptions that include participants and spectators maintaining social distancing, judges wearing masks and family members being given priority in seating areas.
Grandstand events are allowed, though only at half capacity or less than 2,500 people (whichever is smaller).
“What we have unfortunately started to see is some fairs that were not following that,” DeWine said. “Some were, some were not. We saw things like we have one county fair that we so far know of 19 cases that arose out of that county fair. We’ve also seen pictures of some fairs where people were not social distancing.”
The 2020 Butler County Fair tractor pull is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday. Classes will include antique tractor pulling, farm stock tractor pulling and stock and hot semi pulling, Turner said. There will be grudge matches for V-8 Hot Rod tractors and Alter Farm tractors. Hook fees and admission at the grandstand will come with a suggested donation.
Admission to the fair is free on Friday, the day of the the 2020 Demolition Derby, the 31st annual installment of the popular event, Turner said.
“The animals will be gone after Thursday, so there really is nothing here Friday other than the concession (stands), the games and the derby, so that’s why we just said ‘Let’s open it up,‘” he said.
Grandstand tickets for the demolition derby are on sale at www.butlercountyohfair.org/demolition-derby for $10 each for all ages, and only 1,600 tickets can be sold.
Social distancing will be maintained at the derby by using only half the seats in the grandstand. Fans this year also will have the option of standing viewing from around the enclosed pen where cars crash into one another until only one is left as the winner.
Those looking to take in other local fairs still have a chance to do so. Today is the last day of the Warren County Fair, which offers an air-conditioned event center, fair food, evening bands, karaoke and a beer garden from 5 to 10 p.m. Jessie Lyn & the TNT Band take the stage at 7 p.m. and karaoke is set for 9 p.m.
The Preble County Fair takes place from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8.
Staff Writer Marcus Hartman contributed to this report.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Butler County Fair
WHERE: 1715 Fairgrove Ave., Hamilton
WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, July 30, then 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 31.
COST: $5 for adults to attend the fair and children 12 and younger who are accompanied by a paying adult will get in free. Next Friday features free admission to the fair, except for those wishing to attend the demolition derby.
MORE DETAILS: www.butlercountyohfair.org