COLUMBUS — There won’t be a 2020 butter cow display at the state fair this year, or any other display, for that matter.
The Ohio Expositions Commission announced Thursday that it will cancel the 2020 Ohio State Fair, originally scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 9 in Columbus.
Locally, officials are awaiting further details and guidance from Ohio 4-H on how the cancellation of Ohio State Fair will affect 4-H programs and members, Shelby County Extension Educator Cassie Dietrich said.
“We are hopeful that, as with a typical 4-H year, Shelby County 4-H youth will still have an opportunity to display their projects to their family, friends, peers and the local community,” she said. “Project evaluation is a critical component of the 4-H experience; therefore, we will do everything possible to support that still taking place in 2020. It may end up looking and feeling different, but the objectives of youth development and growing the leaders of tomorrow will remain.”
Members of the Ohio Expositions Commission expressed concern for public health, as well as the financial feasibility of hosting a fair that would adhere to social distancing protocols and its effects on the long-term viability of the Ohio State Fair.
“After careful thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel the Ohio State Fair. Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans,” said Andy Doehrel, chair of the Ohio Expositions Commission. “The financial ramifications of hosting a reduced-capacity Fair would be too great, and we need to protect the Ohio State Fair for future generations.”
“Our first priority is the safety of the hundreds of thousands of people involved in the Ohio State Fair each year. While this is a difficult decision, we feel it is necessary to protect the fairgoers, exhibitors, volunteers, vendors, partners, performers, concessionaires, youth leaders, employees and sponsors,” said Virgil Strickler, general manager of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. “I look forward to seeing my fellow Ohioans at the 2021 Ohio State Fair, when it is safer for us to enjoy our favorite traditions together.”
Last year, 934,925 people attended the Ohio State Fair during its 12-day run. These attendees came from each of Ohio’s 88 counties, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Mexico.
The Ohio Expositions Commission is focused on developing a strategy to responsibly reopen its year-round facilities when appropriate and to welcome guests back for the 2021 Ohio State Fair, scheduled for July 28 through Aug. 8 of next year.