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With a semblance of the state fair on slate, hopes are high locally

The Ohio State Fair will go on this summer, but it won’t be open to folks like us.

In fact, it won’t be open to any public, due, of course, to public health concerns.

As we work hard to emerge from this seemingly never-ending pandemic, the Ohio Expositions Commission, which runs the annual state fair, announced last week that the fair will focus this year on agricultural and educational competitions for exhibitors and their families and friends. Other vendors and festivities will not go forward as usual.

We all now have our fingers crossed as we remain hopeful that, after missing out on our local fair traditions last year, this year’s shows will go on with the Columbiana County and Canfield fairs.

In Columbus, the Ohio Expositions Commission announced in a prepared statement Thursday, “While we are hopeful that we soon will be on the other side of this pandemic, the reality is that cases of COVID-19 remain high, and we just don’t know how things will look in July,” the announcement stated.

The commission also mentioned the financial perils of hosting a fair under current COVID-19 safety protocols. So, it will open July 19 to limited capacity with plans to return to regular programming in 2022.

Here in Columbiana County, all eyes are on the Lisbon Fair, scheduled for August 2-8. The Canfield Fair follows Sept. 1-6. Fair administrators will be watching how the Trumbull County Fair fares. Scheduled for July 13-18, it is one of the earliest fairs of the season, and lessons learned there could help lay the groundwork for fairs later in the season like Lisbon and Canfield.

Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine gave a cautious “OK” for county fairs to go forward, but we all know that could change in a moment’s notice.

Of course, the planning process involves more than the fair board. County commissioners and the local health boards monitor closely any emerging guidelines.

We are hopeful that we are able, this year, to walk the midway and enjoy every imaginable deep-fried fair delicacy on a stick, tour the livestock barns and ride rides.

We already know that Canfield won’t be hosting any big name performers this year, but we’re willing to bet fair fans will be satisfied with whatever taste of the fair they can get.

We know 4-Hers have been working hard on their projects, developing skills and raising livestock. We are extremely hopeful they are able to showcase that hard work to big crowds that reach far beyond their family members.

We also know concessionaires and vendors who rely on fair crowds to help make their living are just as eager as fair-goers to get back to business.

So, as guidelines are ironed out for safety protocols like social distancing, attendance numbers and seating arrangements, we urge everyone who loves the fair as much as we do to follow the rules that are established to ensure we all stay healthy so our county fairs — and any other big local summer events — can go forward.

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