Kansas reverses decision—cancels state fair in Hutchinson


Before the Oklahoma State Fair board cancelled the 2020 fair, the Kansas State Fair Board voted to go ahead with its fair. Now the Kansas board has rescinded its vote and decided to cancel the 2020 fair.

The Hutchinson News, city where the Kansas state fair is held reported the board took a vote this week. However, the board was interested in finding a way to safely hold livestock and 4-H events amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to cancel came shortly after the board voted last month to continue with the fair. After the vote was announced, the board and staff received feedback from vendors and the community about challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We appreciate the thoughtful consideration you gave to open the fair as safely as possible. After that, we heard from a number of vendors who were genuinely concerned,” said fair manager Robin Jennison.

Roughly 50% of vendors had canceled, so if the fair were held with safe practices, it wouldn’t look like the Kansas State Fair, Jennison said.

Some vendors couldn’t put together a crew for 10 days, and others worried about delays with quarantines imposed after traveling state to state. Shortly after the board’s decision last month, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska fairs decided to cancel, so other vendors couldn’t feasibly mobilize just to come to Kansas without the Midwest circuit.

Some Oklahoma firms, including those with major wind-farm operations had exhibits and displays at last year’s fair in Hutchinson.

The first “official” Kansas State Fair was held Sept. 13-20, 1913.

Board member Nick Ketzner suggested a modified, “throwback” fair for 2020, hearkening back to the first days of the fair when it was focused on livestock and 4-H events.

Jenn Galloway, competitive exhibits director, presented her recommendations for continuing livestock events. Her recommendations allow for social distancing, scheduling, financials and animal health and safety.

“There would be vet checks at the gates so animals won’t come in without being approved,” Galloway said. “We have more than COVID going on with the horses.”

The next issue the board hopes to solve is how to cover costs of the events.

Source: Hutchinson News