The Lebanon Area Fair has been a tradition for tens of thousands of people from Lebanon County and the surrounding area since it was founded in 1957. This year, the tradition will likely continue but in a much different way than previous years.
The Lebanon Area Fair Board Chairman Daniel Siegel announced Wednesday on the fair’s Facebook page that the 2020 fair, scheduled to begin July 25, will be “significantly altered.” The fair will not have track events, midway shows, rides, carnival games, indoor and outdoor commercial exhibits, or open class entries.
“Our Fair Board did not make this decision without careful thought and spirited debate,” said Seigel in the announcement. “We completely understand the disappointment that our loyal exhibitors and faithful fairgoers are feeling.”
The board is currently looking into alternative ways to continue some of the usual fair activities while keeping the community safe. In particular, they are considering ways to accommodate 4-H, FFA, and youth indoor exhibits and animal entries, the fundraising barbecues that benefit 4-H and FFA activities, and fair scholarships.
“As a board, we are committed to doing something for our youth, [and] that’s kind of what we’ve stripped the fair down to,” said Lebanon Area Fair spokeswoman and board member Emily Summey. “If there is a way for us to safely gather and judge our youth competitive exhibits in person, we would, of course, love to do that first and foremost.
“Our purpose is 4-H and FFA exhibits. That’s what’s in our mission and that’s why we do what we do.”
Read More: Animals aplenty at the Lebanon Area Fair
The fair board is considering livestreamed exhibitions and take-out or drive-through options for food vendors as well. These are just potential options and, at this point, they “offer absolutely no definitive assurances that [they] will succeed at being able to provide the accommodations that [they] are exploring,” said Siegel.
“We ask for everyone’s continued patience as we work through the logistics associated with each possibility listed above.”
This decision had been underway for some time, as Siegel had posted an announcement April 28 saying that the fair would “most certainly still be affected by COVID-19.”
“The number one thing in our mind is figuring out how to do what we do safely in response to the pandemic,” said Summey.
The board had set a June 1 deadline for their decision, but they decided to announce it before that date due to the large amount of planning that goes into the fair.
“We felt that we needed to make some decisions early because of the amount of planning, time, investments, and expenditures of the board from a planning perspective and also from all of the various entities that are involved in our event,” said Summey. “If you’re too late, the people get stuck with the bill and they don’t have a way to pay.”
While they wanted to make the decision as soon as they were able to, it was not taken lightly.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that this really is a gut-wrenching decision for the board,” said Summey. “Everyone has their particular area of interest in the fair, not just as board members but as fairgoers. It really was not an easy decision to say that we can’t do it all this year.”
Check out our photo stories from last year’s fair
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