Fewer booths, events planned for this year's Summit County Fair

Online ticket sales, reduced grandstand capacity also planned due to pandemic

APRIL HELMS
Reporter
This file photo was taken at a Summit County Fair in a previous year. It is uncertain how many equestrian competitors will come to the fair this year due to the pandemic.

TALLMADGE – Plans for this year’s Summit County Fair were submitted to the Summit County Health Department on June 22, according to information provided by one of the board members with the Summit County Fair.

Currently, the fair board is “awaiting comments and information requests for clarification,” said Howard Call, program director and a board member with the Summit County Fair. He also serves as executive director for the Ohio Fair Managers Association.

If all goes according to plan, this year’s fair will take place July 29 through Aug. 2, according to information from the Summit County Fair website.

There will be several changes due to the pandemic, Call said. Capacity for the grandstand events, which will be limited to Moto Cross, Demolition Derby, and the truck and tractor pulls, will be at 50 percent, or 1,500 spectators. The fair will reduce inside spaces from 72 spaces to 45 spaces to spread them apart. There will be five fewer food vendors, although Call added that they “chose not to participate on account of their health concerns.”

Call said he strongly encouraged those wishing to attend to purchase tickets in advance online; online ticket sales are set to start Friday, June 26.

There will be fewer activities to cut down on congestion, Call said.

“We have dropped Senior Fair open class exhibits like sheep, goats, home and domestic arts, dairy, beef so that we can spread out the youth projects to reduce congestion,” he said. “We have dropped Tuesday off the start of the fair to reduce costs.”

There also will be “plenty of sanitizing stations,” Call said, and signs will be posted “at all entrances on the social distancing.”

“Signage will be in all barns, buildings and at the grandstand,” he added.

Regulations on amusement park rides will follow the guidelines from the CDC, and from any guidelines from the Ohio Health Department, Call said. He added that to date, there have been no rules established by the state in connection with the pandemic.

Masks will not be required by spectators nor guests, Call said.

In the orders provided by the state, judges, since they have to inspect and handle animals and may have to come close to the competitors, are encouraged to wear masks during the judging.

Tonia Burford, director of environmental health for Summit County Public Health, said that the state just released rules and guidelines for fairs last week. She added that Summit County Public Health is still reviewing the plans for the Summit County Fair, but expects final approval will be given next week.

“The overall plan is solid,” she said. “There’s just a couple little points to clarify. There is nothing unexpected in the plan, they pretty much follows the guidance. They’ve been pretty flexible. We’ve worked very well with them.”

Jackie Krieger, the 4-H educator for Summit County, said she wasn’t sure how many members of 4-H might be competing this year due to the pandemic.

“We know our numbers will be down,” Krieger said. “It’s been so hard.”

One issue was that the deadline to apply for a project was mid-March, Krieger said. “We weren’t sure if there would be a fair.”

“If someone typically brings four hogs, in hopes of auctioning them, and there’s no auction, or we don’t know if there would be an auction, they would have to make some other arrangements,” she said. “Also, we have a large number, more than 100, who take horse projects. They couldn’t even ride their animals at all if they had them at a boarding facility, as opposed to their own property.”

Krieger said this year’s fair is “going to be very interesting.”

“It’s been very difficult, and I respect the families who have made these difficult decisions,” Krieger said. “I know of families who take vacations so they can go to the fair together. We’re not sure how it will work out this year, but we are working hard to make compliant. Everything is in flux. We are ready to make needed changes. Hats off to the organizers of the fair for their work.”

The Summit County Fair is on the fairgrounds, at 229 E. Howe Road in Tallmadge, For details, ticket information and guidelines, call 330-633-6200, check the Summit County Agricultural Society’s Facebook page, or visit the Summit County Fair’s website at https://summitfair.com/ online.