EATON — The Preble County Agricultural Society announced via press release on Friday, June 19, the 170th Preble County Fair will be moving forward as scheduled from Aug. 1-8.
This decision came after deliberations from the Preble County Ag. Society during a board meeting on June 18, where members discussed guidelines which will have to be followed to conduct a safe fair.
“We hope to have a good fair. It’s made everybody worried for a long time, even myself,” Preble County Ag. Society Board President Clinnie Stevenson said. “I’ve been from the beginning never wanting to say no, we’re not having a fair, or even think about canceling…I told the guys at our May meeting, I said, to have everything ready to go. Have all your stuff ready to go. We can cancel if we have to, but have everything ready to go. We’re going to go as a fair. If they come down and say, ‘No, you’re not having your fair,’ it’s easier to cancel.”
Things were touch-and-go while waiting to hear from the state as to whether or not the Preble County Fair could take place, but the board never wavered in wanting to have an open fair.
“The majority of the board was wanting to have the open shows. I didn’t hear too much negativity from anybody about it,” Stevenson said. “Mainly the negativity is from some of the older people that do show here about bringing people in from other counties. They’re still worried about everything that’s going on in the world. You can understand that with older people.”
While the Preble County Fair will be held as scheduled, restrictions will be in place for various aspects of the fair including the grandstands, vendors, rides, and how 4-H shows and auctions will work. These guidelines come from the Preble County Health Department in accordance with a June 19 order from the Ohio Department of Health regarding the operation of county fairs.
Changes will be minimal for 4-H shows and auctions. All microphones will be cleaned in between each auctioneer and while children will still be able to take their animals into the ring, social distancing will be practiced when at all possible.
“No handshaking, not taking pictures like you would normally,” Stevenson said. “The kids would have the opportunity with the guy to come up and stand with him with their animal and shake their hand. There won’t be any of that.”
The grandstands, which have a normal capacity of 3,700 people, will be limited to just 2,500 people for each event. Guests should maintain social distancing from others while in the grandstands, though families are encouraged to sit together.
Stevenson said the Smash It Derby, which will take place on July 3 at the Preble County Fairgrounds, will be used as a guide for how to conduct the two derby nights at the Preble County Fair. This derby will give them an indication of what to expect in terms of fans in the grandstands and the number of car entries.
“The derby is our main concern about worrying about having too many people,” Stevenson said. “All of our other events we don’t have to worry about. We don’t sell out like we do the derbies. The derbies are usually the ones that you have to worry about selling out and then you get too many people. Everything else should be safe.”
Restrictions will also be in place for food vendors, who must have their facilities at least six feet from any other food vendors. Six-foot spacing marks will also be required as well as no self-serving areas.
Additionally, the number of rides at this year’s Preble County Fair will be impacted by restrictions.
As opposed to the usual 20-22 rides that can be experienced at the Preble County Fair, there will instead be anywhere from 12-15 rides throughout the midway, though Stevenson added, there will be a new Ferris wheel. Additionally, there will be restrictions on the number of people allowed on the rides.
“I think what they have to enforce, just like Kings Island, is they have to alternate seat, empty seat, seat, empty seat,” Stevenson said. “Kings Island is doing the same thing now.”
Steps will also be taken to increase the cleanliness of the Preble County Fair.
Public restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized every two hours by new employees hired specifically for janitorial duties. Stevenson said they are trying to have at least 10 hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout the fairgrounds.
There will also be signs near entrances and inside buildings encouraging guests to practice social distancing as well as making sure they stay healthy.
“It’s all to do with the COVID-19 social distancing,” Stevenson said. “Six feet apart, directional [signs] on buildings in and out. If you’re feeling ill, been recently exposed, at risk, older people, you just use caution and stay at home. Keep a safe distance. Protect yourself, wash your hands. These will be placed around in the bathrooms and several areas…use hand sanitizer, which we’ll have hand sanitizer stations in every barn and along different places in the midway.”
The full text from the Preble County Ag. Society’s press release can be read below.
“The 170th Famous Preble County Fair is moving forward with a full fair August 1st to the 8th.
“On June 18, the board held their monthly meeting available to the public via Zoom. During this meeting, guidelines, cleaning and sanitation protocols, and COVID-19 signage was discussed. Here at the Preble County Fair, we want to ensure you that our board, staff, and volunteers are working to prepare an amazing and safe fair for you. Upon your arrival, we ask that you do not enter if you are feeling ill, have recently been exposed to coronavirus, are in an at-risk situation. This fair takes health and safety seriously and has enhanced measures in place. However, it is each visitor’s responsibility to maintain social distancing and to utilize our hand washing and sanitation stations, as well as following the signage we have prepared for you. We look forward to seeing you at the 170th Famous Preble County Fair; August 1st to the 8th!”
More information about restrictions at the 170th Preble County Fair can be found online at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home and http://preblecountyfair.com/.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @BradenMoles