McARTHUR — No fair will be held in Vinton County this year, officials say.
The cancellation of the county’s annual Junior Fair was announced earlier this year, but the Vinton County Agricultural Society’s board of directors “decided to stand with their previous decision to cancel the 2020 Vinton County Junior Fair,” the fair board announced in a social media statement.
“We understand that this is heartbreaking for many who look forward to this week every year,” the fair board stated on its Facebook page. “However, the decision was made with great concern for the well-being of the county and its residents. As well as continued concern about the requirements that follow the coronavirus pandemic.”
The county’s Agricultural Society is the governing body behind fair planning.
State funding was available to assist with the costs of holding a fair through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to the State of Ohio’s Controlling Board, coronavirus relief for local fairs exists through funding administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
“To allow fairs to be conducted in a safe manner in accordance with health guidance, consistent with good health practices necessitated by COVID-19, each fair that conducts a junior fair in 2020 will receive $50,000 and fairs that do not conduct a junior fair this year will receive $15,000,” the controlling board’s website stated.
“The board felt that with the hardships that the county has experienced over the past couple of months and the restrictions put in place for these funds it would not be feasible to hold a fair this year,” the social media statement said.
The board of directors have been reaching out to members of the community and other buyers who support the annual livestock sale to provide exhibitors who have completed their livestock projects the opportunity to receive financial compensation.
Buyers will contribute a little differently this year, however.
Buyers will not be able to purchase an animal for custom slaughter, for example. That donation will be a premium above the market price for that animal, according to the fair board. In addition, money can not be donated to a specific child. Rather, it can be donated to a pool that services children who are showing a specific species. The total for each species will then be evenly divided among the children showing that species who completed their projects. Any donations that are not species-specific will be split evenly among exhibitors.
The Board also invited the community to donate toward supporting “these kids who have put countless hours and days into their projects.” To donate, reach out to a board member, message the Board on Facebook or send the Board an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several 4-H and FFA members reached out to The Vinton-Jackson Courier to voice their disappointment in the fair’s cancellation.
“I bought my steer last year and have been raising him along with all my show pigs and now I don’t get to show off all my hard work,” said Hunter Mulhern, 11. He said he felt “mad,” “because the decision of the fair board affects everyone in this county,” and “sad,” “because I’m in this for fun but for some kids they need to do this for the money, they get their school clothes, supplies, and sometimes even food money from selling their animals.” Mulhern has participated in the county’s junior fair for years and has shown multiple animals.
The county’s junior fair also carries a lot of meaning for Cassidy King.
“This was supposed to be my last year at the fair,” she told The Courier. “This was the year I’ve been waiting for since I was in 4th grade.”
King has shared multiple species of animals and has participated in 4-H since she was a young child, starting off as a Clover Bud.
“ I never thought that being in 4-H would be a big part of my life, but over the years it has been,” King said. “So watching every other fair have their fair is upsetting. I’d do anything to have a fair this year. The decision that was made hurt so many families including mine. I’ve worked way too hard to just give up my last year of fair.”