Iowa’s Clay County Fair postponed until 2021

Local News

SPENCER, Iowa (KCAU) – Officials with the Clay County Fair in Iowa has been postponed until 2021.

Jeremy Parsons, the fair’s CEO, said in a statement that they have been exploring all possible options over the past several weeks, but came to the conclusion that they cannot hold it in 2020.

Instead, it will be held in 2021 from September 11-19.

Parsons said that trying to follow the current public health recommendations of social distancing and increased sanitation would have made some fair traditions unrecognizable or even been eliminated.

Organizers said that it would take a minimum of 60-70 days to order materials and get the fairgrounds ready, saying they took all the time they could to make the decision.

Fair officials are working to still create opportunities for local 4-H/FFA youth and local non-profits. They will release details in the coming weeks.

Parsons also thanked everyone for their support for making the Clay County Fair “The World’s Greatest County Fair.” 

This is the fifth time in the 103-year history that the Clay County Fair will not be held. The other four years were from 1942-1945 when it was suspended due to World War II.

Read the full statement below. They also have a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Dear Clay County Fair Family:

For the past several weeks, we have gathered information, talked with public health authorities, and dialogued with our partners all in an attempt to fulfill the Fair’s mission of providing a “safe family atmosphere” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. After exploring all options, the answer is clear. We simply cannot. The Clay County Fair will not be held in 2020.

The absolute minimum to keep our entire Fair family safe would be following the current public health recommendations of social distancing and increased sanitation. Unfortunately, we discovered that implementing these measures would have eliminated some of our greatest Fair traditions and made other traditions unrecognizable. We couldn’t imagine limiting the standing-room-only crowds at the draft horse show or the 4-H beef show. Fifty percent capacity at our free entertainment tents? No way. We didn’t want partially empty exhibit buildings so we could properly socially distance our vendors. For those who had already purchased reserved Grandstand tickets, we would have been forced to move or refund your seats to keep everyone separate. We didn’t like the thought of making your family wait in socially distanced lines to enjoy Grandpa’s Barn or the Depot.

No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t find a way to give you the entire “World’s Greatest County Fair” experience that you have come to love, expect, and deserve.

While we cannot give you the Fair this year, we are working hard to find safe ways that you can still create blue ribbon memories. Opportunities for our local 4-H/FFA youth and local non-profits are at the forefront of that attempt, and details will be released in the coming weeks.

Our Fair is just like your home. A strong foundation is essential for it to be secure. For the Fair, our foundation is you – our Board, staff, volunteers, 4-H/FFA youth, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, entertainers, and fairgoers. This year, however, our foundation is shaky at best. The Fair and many of our non-profit partners need large groups of volunteers and employees to make the Fair a success. In a normal year, it is difficult to find the help; this year, it would be nearly impossible. Many people are not comfortable being around crowds for nine consecutive days, and the effect of a possible outbreak that could occur in the middle of the Fair is a risk we are not willing to take.

Also just like your home, the Fair cannot be built in a day. Our decision must be made now. While it would be nice to see into the future and know what September would be like in this unprecedented time, we don’t have that luxury. We must make educated decisions based on what we know today. Waiting any longer could have damaging effects to our many Fair partners and the Fair itself. Preparing for the Fair requires financial commitment for many, including us, and we can’t wind up anything that can’t be unwound.

For more than a century, your unwavering support has made us “The World’s Greatest County Fair” and we cannot thank you enough. Just like you, we are disappointed that we won’t be together this September. More than that, we are heartbroken because we know this decision will impact each of you directly, and our community as a whole. However, while this was a tough decision, it is also the most responsible decision to ensure the safety of our entire Fair family, the community, and the long-term stability of the Fair itself.

When this is all over, we know that Clay County, northwest Iowa and the entire region will need our Fair more than ever. And, just as we have done for 103 years, we will be ready.

Jeremy Parsons

This is a developing story.

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