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State of Ohio to leave decision to hold county fairs up to local leaders

The state has issued guidelines for counties to hold junior fairs.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the issue of whether Ohio counties can hold fairs this summer as the state continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton say they strongly recommend that for the 2020 fair season, agricultural societies limit fairs to allow only for 4-H and FFA “Junior Fair” activities.

However, if fair boards decide that they can safely host attractions, concessions, and exhibitors beyond Junior Fair activities, as long as they comply with the state's safety protocols, the events will be allowed to happen. 

"Decisions about county and independent fairs should be made locally because each county and independent fair is unique and has different challenges," Gov. DeWine said during his COVID-19 briefing in Columbus.

As situations change through the coming months, the state is asking all fair boards to be in compliance with all of the Ohio Department of Health's orders and guidelines. 

On Thursday, the state did release guidelines for junior fairs, with guidance on how county fair boards, agricultural societies and local health departments can safely allow kids to participate in limited livestock shows and other activities. 

Included in the guidelines is information on social distancing, limiting crowds, ensuring the health of those involved and animal care and welfare. You can read the state's guidelines by clicking here.

In addition, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is in the process of distributing all state funding for the 94 county and independent fairs that take place.

Last week, organizers announced that the Ohio State Fair is canceled for 2020 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"The Ohio State Fair’s management team, as well as the Ohio Expositions Commission, have been carefully evaluating all available information from state and local health officials, as well as the financial feasibility of a reduced capacity fair, over the last several weeks. Today, the Ohio Expositions Commission voted to cancel the Ohio State Fair in effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the Fair for future generations."

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