County fair organizers keeping an eye on outbreak situation
CRESCO — It’s still a roll of the dice as to whether the Iowa State Fair will be held this August due to the pandemic, and the fate of dozens of Iowa county fairs is also in doubt.Tom Barnes of Cresco is executive director of the Association of Iowa Fairs and he says it’s all up in the air. “It’s such a fluid situation right now, it’s really hard to get a scope of what to expect,” Barnes says. “You hear about these cancellations everywhere. As far as the fair season and the fair industry is concerned, we’re in a wait-and-see kind of thing.”Officials with county fairs across Iowa are monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on this year’s expositions, which are a highlight of summertime for many rural communities. “We’re getting close to the season,” Barnes says. “We start here in June, we have several fairs in June including my own. We’re going to have to take our direction from what the state and federal government tells us we can and can’t do.”More than three-and-a-half million people attend Iowa’s fairs and festivals in a typical year, so it would be a tremendous loss to communities in every one of the state’s 99 counties to cancel the fair season. “If I had a crystal ball, I wouldn’t be quite so nervous,” Barnes says. “We’ve gotta’ do what’s safe for everybody, that’s for sure, and that’s what we totally understand. That’s where we’re at right now. I can’t give you a definite answer yes or no on anything.”A complete listing of all 106 of the scheduled county fair dates for this year may be found at www.iowafairs.com.