By Anna Bolton
XENIA — Greene County Fair will receive $50,000 from the state to conduct a junior fair this summer, if held in compliance with a set of health guidelines.
Board members of county and independent fairs in Ohio received a letter Tuesday evening informing them of the one-time subsidy to help them safely host a modified fair this summer during the coronavirus pandemic. The letter was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, Senate Pres. Larry Obhof, House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
“Our county and independent fairs are so very important to the communities they serve and the young people in 4-H and FFA, who have livestock, as well as non-livestock projects,” the letter begins. “We know that in this summer of the corona virus, it will be hard to conduct junior fairs in a manner that is safe for everyone, but that also will work financially. The four of us have been working to come up with a solution to these challenges.”
According to the letter, each fair that conducts a junior fair will receive $50,000. Fairs that do not conduct a junior fair this year will receive $15,000 to help next year’s fair be conducted safely. Fair boards that have already cancelled their fairs can apply for a new date with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
In order to hold a fair, boards must follow a new set of public health guidelines attached to the letter.
“While the corona virus has made it impossible to hold fairs in the way we have in the past, they are of such importance to communities that every effort should be made to preserve the ‘Junior Fair’ competitions and exhibits, as well as the open class (open to adults) events and competitions,” an introduction to the guidelines states.
The document lays out guidelines for large gatherings, livestock and non-livestock exhibitions, grandstand events and harness racing, barns and campgrounds, food concessions, sanitation and good hygiene, physical contact, and amusement rides.
“I think that change a lot of things. That changes every aspect of what we are going to do,” Greene County Fair Board President Dan Bullen said.
Bullen said the board has been working with Greene County Public Health to ensure it can safely host a fair. With the news of the new funding, decisions are forthcoming, he said.