The Henry County Agricultural Society, Inc. held a special meeting Wednesday evening in order to make a few more formal decisions on the direction of this year’s fair.
It was already reported the fair board recently passed a motion stating, for financial reasons and to ensure the health of the public, it will hold only a junior fair this year. The board continues to follow state regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance from local health officials for its decisions, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture recently announced a $50,000 payment to local fairs which hold a junior fair.
This year’s event will still feature non-spectator harness racing, which is financially feasible because the purse money for these races comes through sources such as the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association, and not from the senior fair board.
Wednesday’s meeting allowed the board to review a proposed junior fair livestock show schedule and guidelines, which was presented by Henry County OSU Extension 4-H Educator Laura Rohlf. The schedule includes the junior fair poultry show at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 in the ag hall; beef show at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 in the livestock show arena; rabbit show Friday, Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. in the ag hall; dairy show at noon Friday, Aug. 14 in the livestock show arena; horse show (driving, English, performance) in the horse show arena Saturday, Aug. 15; dog show at the southend merchants pavilion at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15; horse show (contesting) at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 in the horse show arena; sheep show at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 in the livestock show arena; goat show at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 in the livestock show arena; and swine show Monday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. in the livestock show arena.
For the junior fair, the guidelines showed the following events being canceled for 2020: barn meetings, parade, booth displays, fun show for the horse department, decorated duo contest, versatility, tasting bee, cookie bake-off, the awards and recognition ceremony, cookie bake-off auction, youth activities, junior fair farm olympics, showman of showmen contest, Animals & Me and the junior fair livestock auction.
The format of the shows, spectating and location of animals during shows feature guidelines issued in the state’s Responsible RestartOhio County Fairs and OSU Extension’s recommendations for face-to-face exhibitions. Show spectators are limited to the immediate family of each exhibitor and social distancing will be in place.
The livestock sale will not be held in person this year, and it was reported a packet is being prepared and issued in July with details and options on how those interested can support the exhibitors. At Wednesday’s meeting, it was reported the exhibitors will receive market value for their animals, and then the buyer has the option to add additional funds if they desire. It was also reported plans are already underway to give people an option to donate toward bonuses that are typically awarded to the champion exhibitors.
While the at-fair recognition event has been canceled, it was reported a future event will be announced at which time award ribbons will be distributed. More discussion will also be held on how premiums will be distributed.
It was also reported a 4-H royalty event is still planned, with interviews planned for July 15.
The board approved the presented information for the junior fair livestock show, and a 4-H royalty coronation was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. in the ag hall.
It was reported special interest projects will not be exhibited this year, as that would result in more people on the fairgrounds. Per the local health department, it has been recommended the fairgriounds have as few people as possible on the site at one time. However, Henry County 4-H will work to have the projects presented virtually at henry.osu.edu at a future date.
During Wednesday’s meeting the topics of camping for exhibitors and vendors were also discussed.
It was reported the health department stated camping is permissible, but a number of guidelines in the Responsible RestartOhio program must be followed to offer it. Multiple board members noted, especially if an exhibitor is featuring multiple animal classes, they will likely wish to stay on the site instead of repeatedly moving trailers on and off the fairgrounds.
In discussing food, it was noted, with people on the site throughout the course of a day, they will need food available to them. Food vendors are another area where it is permissible to offer, but guidelines must be followed.
The board members noted those who typically operate the pork and beef stands, as well as the Liberty Chapel stand, have turned down operations for the August event. As of Wednesday, the board reported the milkshake stand is still undecided.
It was suggested the senior leadership stand located near the ag hall could be utilized to do basic concessions. The money raised at this stand each year typically goes toward junior fair trophies.
The board members discussed other food vendors, but it was noted if a large selection of food was made available, that could encourage people not involved with the junior fair to visit the fairgrounds. It was also noted, with a smaller attendance, there will likely be vendors who are not interested in the event.
These two issues were referred to the camping and concession committees, respectively. The camping committee will discuss rules and pricing, and both committees will review the logistics of offering each. A recommendation will then be brought to the full board for its regular meeting on July 8.
The board Wednesday also reviewed a listing of grandstand events that would typically occur during the annual fair. During the meeting, the board voted to officially cancel the following for the August event: cheerleading competition, draft horse pulls, truck pull, field stock tractor pull, NTPA pulls, the parade and pageant, car show, concert and demolition derby. The board also formally canceled all open class events.
Those decisions did not come lightly by the board, with Wayne Michaelis noting there are currently no other events scheduled at the fairgrounds for the remainder of the year, meaning no more revenues are expected in 2020. The events would be further expenses for the fair, and the social distancing and crowd control necessary to run events would limit the number of people paying to offset those costs.
It was reported there are plans to live stream at least one day of the harness racing events. However, it was uncertain at the time whether or not the online betting seen at similar events would be available for these races.
Board members clarified the grandstand cancellations are only for the junior fair week, and does not block the potential for future events this year if they should be organized.
In other business, Rohlf reported work on the 4-H building continues, with boards recently cut for dividers. She added a scissor lift will be on the site Friday, and a painting company was recently spoken to for the project.