Most agricultural fairs fall victim to COVID-19
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, most county or state fairs in the U.S. have been canceled or drastically scaled down this year by the elimination of carnival rides, concerts and tractor pulls, the Associated Press reported, citing the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. Some are only allowing youth livestock competitions and auctions or opening for “fair food drive-thrus.”
The association estimates the total financial loss is almost $4 billion for fair organizations, not counting the revenue for ride and concession operators and volunteer organizations that raise money by selling milkshakes and corn dogs.
To make up some of the difference, a group of Republicans and Democrats in Congress are backing legislation introduced in July that would direct $500 million to agricultural fairs across the nation.
But the AP story notes “But for those who have spent the past year feeding, cleaning and working with their animals in hopes of winning a blue ribbon and maybe some money for college, there is no replacing the missed experiences of the fair.”
South Dakota, however, went ahead with its state fair, which opened last Thursday and ran through Labor Day, despite the state emerging as a virus hotbed, USA Today reported.
Meanwhile, a California writer mourned the loss of the Los Angeles County Fair this year.
“I’ve happily attended every LA County Fair since my arrival here in 1997. But my annual tradition, and perhaps yours too, has fallen by the wayside. Pomona’s fair isn’t taking place this year for the first time in 73 years, another victim of coronavirus,” David Allen wrote in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
“I felt it was important to honor the loss of an event that drew 1.1 million guests last year, employs 500 seasonal employees and pumps $58 million into the city’s economy. The fair needed this fan’s fanfare.”
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