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'I try to be positive' | San Joaquin fair cancels as Sacramento County Fair stays hopeful

Despite the uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, the Sacramento County Fair is staying the course with their late May fair, for now.

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. — While the San Joaquin County fair has called it quits for 2020, many other county fairs in the region are still riding out hope that their fairs can go on. 

The San Joaquin County Fair was scheduled to start in June, so news of the fair’s cancellation due to the coronavirus and financial issues made rounds through the fair circuit. Calls to local fairgrounds were met with either a solemn acknowledgment or complete surprise over the news.

Over at the Sacramento County Fair, which starts in late May, executive director Pamela Fyock says the Sacramento County Fair will still go on, as long Governor Gavin Newsom gives the all clear for his stay at home order.

“You can either be positive or negative, and I try to stay positive,” said Fyock, whose fair starts in late May. 

She said the fair is waiting to get guidance on late May events, and will be ready to go once the word is given. In the meantime, Fyock isn't letting the potential for cancellation interfere with fair preparation.

RELATED: How the local fair went from cattle show to deep-fried Oreos

She's not alone. The Colusa County Fair and El Dorado County Fair, which are scheduled to start in June, said their current plans are to move forward as well. 

Calls and messages to the San Joaquin County Fair office were not returned, however, the fairgrounds did make a social media post explaining the closure.

They cited the coronavirus pandemic and their financial situation as reasons for the cancellation. 

“This is a difficult decision and we know that it will take time for our Fair Community to recover,” said the fair said on Facebook. “We appreciate everyone who has worked so hard to support the Fair.”

After careful consideration and thoughtful discussion focused on the... concerns of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the current financial situation at the San Joaquin County Fair, the Fair Board of Directors has decided to suspend the June 18-21, 2020 edition of the San Joaquin County Fair.

Planning for a fair is no small feat. Even small-town fairs like the Colusa County Fair start their planning a year in advance, said Laura Ford, CEO of the Colusa County Fair. 

Ford said the Colusa County Fair would eventually have more discussion about the impact from the coronavirus, but, for now, the fair is still scheduled as planned.

Kathy Dunkak, deputy manager for the El Dorado County Fair, said the same. While there will be a discussion about the impact in May, the fair is still scheduled for June 18. If the fair’s date is impacted, Dunkak says they have a contingency to reschedule for July. 

She explained that the timing would be important because of FFA and 4H project requirements, otherwise hundreds of students would lose out on showing and possibly auctioning the animals they’ve raised.

Despite the San Joaquin County Fair cancellation, there won’t be an impact on the agriculture students. San Joaquin AgFest is still scheduled as planned. 

In Sacramento County, Fyock shared a similar concern. She has hundreds of kids with projects that could be impacted by a cancellation, but, even if the fair was canceled, there was interest in finding a way for students to have an auction.

The Stanislaus County Fair, who has their multi-day run in July, also had their share of discussion about how the virus might impact their fair plans.

RELATED: These two Northern California fairs are among the top in the country for attendance

In a statement to ABC10, fair CEO Matt Cranford said they have already canceled multiple events at the fairgrounds due to the governor’s stay at home order. While the fair is still scheduled to happen, they're considering a wide range of factors.

“Factors that could affect the fair include how long the shelter order is in place, how other businesses are shut down and their economic impact, and how long our community is out of work,” said Cranford.

He added that the fair is also working to stay ready in case they’re asked to become a “makeshift hospital, or logistics facility.”

“We are all in this together, and just waiting for further notice so that we can get back to business and getting our Fair on in July!” said Cranford.

The Placer County Fair, Alameda County Fair, and California State Fair were contacted, but the messages were not returned.

The Sacramento County Fair opening is being treated with extra precautions, according to Fyock. She said they are looking at hand sanitizer availability, hand-washing stations, and even temperature checks at the front gate.

“The situation is that our biggest concern is the safety of everybody with the coronavirus, so we are pushing forward and continuing to plan to host a great family-friendly fair over Memorial Day weekend,” said Fyock.

RELATED: Actor Jeff Goldblum visits Stanislaus County Fair


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