Va. State Fair canceled for first time since WWII
The annual event won't be held due to COVID-19
The 2020 State Fair of Virginia has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Farm Bureau board of directors announced Thursday.
The fair has run annually since 1854, and was last canceled during World War II. It was also canceled during the 1918 Spanish influenza and the Civil War, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau.
“This was a difficult decision, but safety is our No. 1 priority,” Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director, said in a statement. “We’ve spent months developing plans and scenarios that would allow us to still host the fair this year, but with the ever-changing, unpredictable COVID-19 situation, we just couldn’t make it work.”
The fair was scheduled to run from Sept. 25 through Oct. 4 this year at the 330-acre Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, where the event has been held since 2009. Last year, nearly 245,000 people attended the State Fair.
“In a normal year, preparing for this annual event is a huge undertaking,” Jolliffe said in a statement. “In the midst of a global pandemic, it just wasn’t feasible,” she added, noting that an event of this magnitude requires thousands of hours of planning by staff and vendors.
Earlier this year, dozens of county fairs across the state were canceled, as well as other outdoor festivals and events.
Each year, a 4-H Livestock Show is held for youth to showcase animals they have raised during the past year. Amid the pandemic, the State Fair will host a modified version of the livestock show, of which details are forthcoming. The State Fair is working with the Virginia Cooperative Extension to finalize plans for the modified show.
“While a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock Show is not ideal, we believe it will allow our youth to showcase the yearlong effort they’ve put into raising their animals, and enable them to earn scholarship money as well,” Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor said in a statement.
As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health had reported more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state.
“While our hearts are heavy, we believe this is the right thing to do,” Jolliffe added. “It is important that we are good stewards of our operation and consider the health and welfare of our communities.”
The State Fair for 2021 is scheduled to run Sept. 24 through October 3.
“We will be back bigger, better and stronger,” Jolliffe said.