With the majority of spring and summer events already canceled or postponed due to social distancing concerns, the fate of what would be the 68th consecutive year of Patrick County’s Agricultural Fair hangs in the balance.
“This time of year, we are normally excited and making preparations for the fair, but we can’t do that this year,” said Sonny Swails, president of the PC Agricultural Fair Corporation. “I feel like an old computer, sitting here spinning my wheels.”
Swails said the “Fair Book,” usually produced for the fair, has been canceled because many local businesses have been burdened by recent events.
The county fair is about 100 days away, according to Swails who said that a decision needed to be made on the fate of the fair at least 60 days in advance of the event, or organizers may face a hefty penalty from the entertainment company that works the event.
Swails said the entertainment company has liability concerns as their insurance didn’t cover infectious diseases spreads. He said organizers are eagerly awaiting updates from Richmond to ease restrictions so the entertainment company can work around the virus.
If the fair is held, “it will not be business as usual,” he said.
For instance, “confined areas are of ‘high-transfer danger.’ We may have to do away with the music room; we may have to eliminate derby, but we don’t know at this time,” said Swails.
Additionally, because of the limitations and the inability to allow crowds, Swails said there also are concerns about whether the fair would be profitable or even break even for the entertainment company.
Some surrounding localities preemptively canceled their fair festivities, however, Swails said he feels it is too soon to call.
“People need something to look forward to,” he said. “If we can pull off the fair this year, it will be a bumper to bumper year.”
Organizers must make a final decision by the July 25 deadline, he added.
“I think our county and the people around us need it; they want to come to our fair, people are so ready to get back to something fun,” Swails said.