Fair to be postponed, 4-H & FFA shows still a go

Thursday, June 25, 2020

PLYMOUTH CO. — After lengthy discussion Thursday night, June 11, the Plymouth County Fair Board voted to postpone the 2020 Plymouth County Fair in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

“It is with deep regret that the decision has been made to postpone the 2020 fair until 2021,” said Fair Board President Loren Schnepf.

“The Fair Board did not take this decision lightly, as these volunteers are some of the most passionate fair supporters you will find. It was going to be very difficult for the small board of 24 volunteers to manage all aspects of a fair this size and meet all the safety requirements to make it the ‘Best 5 Days of Summer’ you all have come to love.

“There are plans in the works to provide opportunities for youth to exhibit. The board appreciates your understanding and looks forward to seeing you July 28-Aug. 1, 2021,” he said.

The motion passed on a 14-7 vote.

A second motion was made and unanimously approved to lease the fairgrounds to ISU Extension Plymouth County and support a 4-H and FFA program for 2020.

The board covered various issues ranging from social distancing, what the governor’s latest proclamation on mass gatherings would mean for the fair, as well as food safety, the amount of sanitizing that would need to be done daily and the many other details to ensure the fair would be a safe environment for everyone.

Plymouth County ISU Extension Youth Coordinator Ann Schoenrock told the board as of Thursday evening, 60 fairs across Iowa had postponed their fairs to 2021, with most of those planning to hold some type of 4-H/FFA livestock shows. That information was according to the Association of Iowa Fairs website.

“We are doing our darndest to have some form of exhibition for our 4-H’ers,” Schoenrock said.

She added according to guidelines she has received from Iowa State University Extension, the 4-H Food Stand could not be operated by the organization due to insurance liability.

It was reported that no entertainment acts had called to cancel as of yet.

The same went for vendors, as board members in charge of those venues indicated no one had called to say they would not come.

Board member Candice Nash Farrer said she was informed that as long as Safe Food Practices were followed, nothing would be different for food vendors from last year.

She said providing proper signage would remind fairgoers to make good decisions.

Fair board members also discussed what the fair would look like with the participation of 4-H and FFA members and their exhibits.

Also discussed were the food vendors, which at the Plymouth County Fair all nonprofits which use their proceeds for projects throughout the year. A concern for those vendors is that some organizations have older members who might not want to work this year.

Schoenrock added she had heard from food workers who said they did not want to work in those close conditions.

Several board members voice the sentiment, “the fair is about the 4-H and FFA members and exhibitors.”

Schoenrock said she is working with state 4-H office and there will be a meeting next week to get further details about how the 4-H livestock show and static exhibits can be judged in a separate show.

Geri Dreckman, superintendent of the creative hobbies open show, said she would be short of volunteers, as many also fall in the older age category.

After the vote to postpone the 2020 fair, board members discussed how and in what form the fair auction of collectables, woodcarvings and quilt, as well as the premium auctions may held. Those details will be discussed at the board’s July meeting.

Board members also want to maintain the integrity of the Plymouth County Fair, they said.

Dave Hoffman of Le Mars, who serves as the president of the Iowa State Fair Board, also attended Thursday’s meeting and shared how the board came to the decision to postponed the Iowa State Fair.

There were a few tears at the end of the meeting when board members came to terms with not having a fair this year, but they are already looking forward to 2021.