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Published 5/18/2020
8:35pm

2020 Shiawassee County Fair Cancelled

Fair Board Voted In A Special Monday Night Meeting

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Owosso Now photo

The Shiawassee County Fair Board of Directors voted in a special Monday night meeting to cancel the 2020 fair due to the continued Coronavirus threat. The announcement was made in a Facebook post. Read it, in its entirety, below.

"In a special meeting this evening, the Shiawassee County Fair Board of Directors voted to cancel the 2020 fair.

We ask that all fair goers understand that this decision was not taken lightly. Our board is made up of parents, 4-H leaders and volunteers that dedicate a great amount of time to our event. We are all disappointed and wish that circumstances were different.

The health and safety of our community is our top priority. With that said, an event as large as our fair has a lot of moving parts and there are several factors that went into this decision, including:   

 - Recommendations from our insurance provider  

- Recommendations from the Shiawassee County Health Department  

- Vendor contract requirements  

- Organizational timelines  

- Missed income from hosted horse shows and other events  

Our board is working to develop a plan to support our youth livestock exhibitors in marketing this year’s projects. Details are not yet available, but we hope to provide you with an update on that initiative at the start of June.

We understand the immense disappointment that will come with this announcement. Please understand that this post will be monitored and any comments violating the terms of use expressed in our “About” section will be removed."

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More information was provided about the cancellation and its implications in a "Questions & Answers" comment by the Shiawassee County Fair. Read it, in its entirety, below.

"QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Why did the Board of Directors cancel the fair?

All board members serve because of their passion and commitment to the youth of this county and the overall community. This was not an easy decision. The 2020 Shiawassee County Fair is canceled due to the increased concern for exhibitor and visitor safety during the coronavirus pandemic. While some of our fair colleagues are waiting to make a decision/announcement, we felt it necessary to make this decision now. A fair our size can’t be fine-tuned and put together in a month. While we are immediately feeling the impact of this decision, the Board is charged with the fiduciary responsibility for the long term viability of the fairgrounds.

2. What factors were considered?

The decision was made on hard facts that we have today, in consultation with our insurance company, health department, state and national organizations, state and federal mandates as well as our carnival partner. Decisions can’t be made on speculation of what tomorrow or two months from now could be.
The Executive Orders (EO), as of today, does not permit for gatherings of large numbers until Phase Six. We are currently at Phase Three. Whether you acknowledge/support the EO or not, even the proposed House and Senate Open Michigan Safely documents do not allow fairs or festivals until “there has been no active spread in 30 days or a vaccine has been available for 30 days.” Shiawassee County Fair is one of the largest fairs in Michigan. We know that attendees come from throughout the state to our fair, not just from Shiawassee County. We have to look at the overall picture of Covid 19 as part of our decision making process.

The Board also considered factor such as the personal safety of its volunteers, exhibitors, vendors and visitors. The 127 acre facility would have to be redesigned for social distancing. Barriers and directional marking would have to be created, placed and enforced. A sanitization/health check/safety protocol would have to be instituted which would include temperature screening, increased sanitization throughout the grounds and in the barns, and the development of NO CONTACT policies. Crowd control would have to be implemented and enforced including move-in, move-out from wash racks, show rings, arenas, grandstands and buildings. The number of guests would have to be limited in the arenas and grandstands to accommodate social distancing (thereby creating a potential financial situation). The arena/show rings would need to be disinfected between shows and potentially classes. Individuals who are 65 or older and/or in compromised health would be asked to stay away from the fairgrounds. All of this would require continual documentation.
Even with all these precautions, should someone develop or say they developed Covid 19 at the fairgrounds, our insurance would not cover the lawsuit. The Shiawassee County Agricultural Society would go bankrupt just from the legal fees to defend a lawsuit.

Also, if the state guidelines allowed for the fair to happen but with a limited capacity based upon a percentage, who among wants to be the one to say only 25% (or whatever the percentage) of our youth can participate? And who would be chosen?

3. What does this mean for market livestock projects?

The Board of Directors will be evaluating whether or not a virtual sale is a possibility. Last year, we had approximately 140 beef cattle, 130 market lambs, 400 market hogs, 23 market goats, as well as hundreds of market poultry and rabbits. A live or a virtual sale is a massive undertaking. We would encourage youth to reach out to past buyers or market their projects using social media. With the perceived and/or real meat shortage right now, youth could find buyers and schedule time at a processor. We are committed to helping the youth market their projects. The Board hopes to share that plan by the beginning of June.

4. Will eligibility be extended for youth that were “aging” out after this year?

No. The age guidelines for youth participation will not change."

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