As news came out last week that the state’s six major rodeos were being canceled due to the coronavirus, the Johnson County commissioners and fair board members remain committed to holding the county fair the last week of July.
“We’ve been really committed to having a fair,” said Laci Schiffer, fair board president. “We’ve been working to keep it as normal as possible, and the commissioners are supportive of having as normal a fair as possible.”
Schiffer and fair board secretary Kristen LaDuke said they have been working closely with Dr. Mark Schueler, the county’s health officer, to develop guidelines for keeping the grounds as safe as possible for participants and spectators.
Schiffer said that while some of the state’s biggest fairs and rodeos have been canceled, in part due to a lack of sponsorship dollars, the fair board’s modest budget means the board should still be able to put on a “really great community event.”
LaDuke said that some “high touch” events, like the Fun on the Go jumping inflatables, will be canceled, but most events will go on as usual. Some events that draw big crowds of spectators, like the Sheep Lead and the livestock sale, may have a new format to allow spectators to spread out more, but it is too early to know for sure.
Schiffer said that the board has been working on plans B and C in the event that the state FFA or 4-H offices determine that in-person livestock showing cannot proceed. The board has the possibility of holding “virtual” livestock shows and auctions, but it is also possible, Schiffer said, to enter 4-H and FFA animals into the open class competitions.
“We want to have as much as we can,” Schiffer said. “As long as we have the OK from the commissioners and Dr. Schueler.”
The fair begins Friday, July 24, with the 4-H fabric and fashion show and a kickoff concert that evening and concludes Sunday, Aug. 2. Open class exhibit and rodeo entries open June 15.