POTTER COUNTY — The decision to cancel the Potter County Fair was not an easy decision and it was not made lightly.
After the fair board was given guidance from the State Fair Association, board secretary Judi Turton said the board members went back and forth on what to do. Guidelines issued by Governor Tom Wolf at the end of May stated gatherings of more than 250 people, including at fairs, was prohibited.
Turton said because the fair is free and it’s not gated, they would have no way of knowing how many people are on the fairgrounds at one time unless they fenced it in and had volunteers monitoring it at all times, which wasn’t feasible.
The fair would have also been required to have special hours for those who are considered a high risk for the coronavirus and set out hand sanitizing and wash stations. Hand sanitizers and wash stations had previously been implemented at the fairgrounds, but Turton said the board would not have been able to afford to meet the guidelines.
A lot of people have asked why the fair board didn’t just hold the livestock sale. Turton said the capacity of the arena gets small with six-foot-spacing and the fair would have had to install plexiglass barriers for the check-out table. On top of that, most of the loyal bidders who go to the livestock sale are struggling financially and it wasn’t realistic to expect the sale prices that exhibitors have gotten in the past. They were encouraged to seek out private buyers, instead.
Even though the fair cancellation is upsetting to many people, Turton said people have been understanding and appreciative.
“We had a couple of negative responses on our Facebook page but once we explained that we didn’t do this because the governor told us to, we did it for the health and safety of everybody involved, I think they understood that,” Turon said. It was a hard decision to make, she said, and hopes everyone understands that the fair could not have financially met the obligations.
Plus, it would not have been a good situation if the fair was held and it brought people in from out of state or county and then later there was an outbreak of cases.
Turton is also involved with the Fair Queen program; she said rather than have a new fair queen, she encouraged any applicants to reapply next year and decided to have the current fair queen, Macy West, hold the title for another year. The things that the fair queen usually does and participates in was shut down, too, so they didn’t feel it was fair to her.
“We didn’t feel it was fair to her to not be able to complete her reign and have a fair where she’s actually the queen and walks around the fair with a crown and stuff on,” Turton said.
Looking forward, the fair board hopes to be able to hold a few fund-raisers in the fall and spring to support the 2021 fair.
“Our goal is to continue on and plan everything for next year and make 2021 bigger and better than in the past,” Turton said.