The 2020 Montgomery County Fair is canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Montgomery County Agricultural Society announced the cancellation Wednesday afternoon after the board of directors took a vote Tuesday.
“We are just heartbroken to have to make this decision, but our priority must be the safety and well-being of our attendees and exhibitors,” said Mark Jimison, board president of the Montgomery County Agricultural Society. “We appreciate all the citizens and local businesses who have continued to support us during this difficult time, and we look forward to hosting the Montgomery County Fair again in 2021 — bigger and better than ever.”
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The fair board has committed to planning a Junior Fair Livestock Exposition, which will be open to livestock exhibitors and their families.
The 2020 fair would have been the third at its current location in Jefferson Twp. after moving from the old fairgrounds site in Dayton on South Main Street where it was held for 166 years. Nearly 27,000 people attended the fair in 2018, the first year at the new site. The number was an increase of about 13,000 from the final fair in Dayton, according to the Montgomery County Agricultural Society. Attendance jumped to about 38,000 last year, according to Lori Page, Montgomery County Agricultural Society deputy director and treasurer.
Page said the fair board was planning to complete a connecting center portion between two barns to make a single large “H” barn, but those plans are on hold, as well as any other improvements during the pandemic.
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Jimison said the pandemic is not only hitting the annual fair, but all the other happenings the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and Event Center hosts. The last event held was a gun show on March 1. The last on the calendar — the Great Train Show — was scheduled in late March and canceled like three other events between those two.
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“We just kind of put everything on hold for this summer until we see what comes,” he said. “We can’t run any buildings with this COVID because of the governor’s rules.”
The financial loss is worrying, Jimison said, but the fairgrounds should bounce back if restrictions on large gatherings are eased soon.
“It’s been hard on us just like it’s been hard on everyone — all the businesses out there — and this is technically a business,” he said. “We don’t have any income to keep bills paid just like all the rest of people. It’s hard on everybody.”
The Butler County Fair Board also voted to cancel the Butler County Fair Tuesday. The fair board is looking at options to allow junior fair exhibitors show their projects.
Less than a week ago, the Ohio State Fair was canceled due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“I had to make a decision,” said Virgil Strickler, general manager, who has been involved in the state fair for 28 years. “I love the Ohio State Fair and I don’t want anything bad happening to it or to our visitors.”
More details about Montgomery County’s Junior Fair Livestock Exposition will be available as planning continues focused on making the exposition safe for families and for exhibitors, Jimison said.
“Everybody’s working diligently to try to get this on so all the kids can finish their projects for the year and hope for better things next year,” he said. “Hopefully, this COVID-19 goes away here shortly.”