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2020 Indiana county fairs: The show goes on one place, but not another

Howard County says yes, Brown County bows out
Howard CO Fair.PNG
Posted at 5:54 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 17:54:47-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Recent days have been challenging ones for organizers of Indiana's many county fairs. On May 15, Purdue Extension, which sets the rules for county fairs, issued its guidelines in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Purdue Extension decided fairs could be held in July, but only if various pandemic safety measures were in place.

That left it up to local organizers to decide whether their fair could be held. Meetings have been held all week. Many counties scaled back their fairs to only 4-H events, others are planning to make 2020 a virtual show—with the focus on 4-H.

Friday, Brown County joined the virtual group. The fair board and 4-H council issued a statement saying Brown County would be "unable to comply with the safety requirements set forth by Purdue Extension to ensure the safety of all those in attendance."

Instead, 4-H members will be able to exhibit projects in a virtual format. The statement went on to say:

Both leadership groups and our 4-H volunteer leaders put countless hours of work into preparing for the fair each year. We also recognize the vast amount of financial and emotional resources 4-H members have invested in their projects which makes this decision incredibly heartbreaking for everyone involved.

The Howard County Fair in Greentown, east of Kokomo, is a different story. Board member Jay Freeman says fair organizers believe they can meet the Purdue extension guidelines for their fair that begins July 13.

This is the 75th anniversary of the fair which is one of Indiana's biggest. Freeman expects a mostly traditional fair, with 4-H competitions along with rides and other attractions. He understands that some older people who might typically visit the fair could feel more comfortable staying away this year.

As for carnival workers, they live in self-contained trailers and Freeman does not see them as a health threat.