EATON — The Preble County Pork Festival Board of Directors announced via a press release Friday, July 10, the 2020 Pork Festival is canceled due to health concerns about COVID-19.
The 2020 Preble County Pork Festival would have taken place September 19-20, and this year would have been the 50th edition of the event dating back to 1971.
Board President Tim Guthrie spoke to The Register-Herald on Monday about the decision to cancel the 2020 festival.
“In the discussion, we decided that the health and safety of all of the volunteers, the people that are involved with the Pork Festival, our vendors and our patrons, we couldn’t meet the requirements for keeping them safe,” he said. “We usually, on a good year, will usually have 70,000-80,000 people there in both days total, and there was no way we could handle that amount of people and still keep them safe, so that was what our decision is based on.”
The board was nearly unanimous in canceling with just one member not voting to cancel.
As for the timing of the decision, with over two months until the Pork Festival would have begun, Guthrie said it came down to when they would begin ordering products for the festival.
The board held off on canceling during its last three meetings, but this was the last opportunity to cancel before orders would need to be placed.
“They’re usually about 60 days on our sausage making and all those products and the amount of pork that we use, it has to be ordered at least 60 days out, and so it was down to where we couldn’t,” he said.
Guthrie said that the board received guidelines from the Preble County Health Department, and after reviewing those rules, said they would not have been able to meet those requirements.
“It was also like I said, we just didn’t want anybody to get sick or anybody to catch anything just for us to have the Pork Festival,” he said. “That was probably our biggest decision with the state or the county to tell us it probably wouldn’t be safe for us to have one.”
The board clarified in a later statement that the decision to cancel the Pork Festival had no bearing on the Preble County Fair, which is still scheduled to take place from Aug. 1-8.
While some questioned holding the Preble County Fair while canceling the Preble County Pork Festival, Guthrie said a big factor was where people would be coming from for these events.
“We had to look at the larger amount of people. For the county fair, it’s pretty much based on mostly 90 percent of Preble County people there, and our event is probably 90 percent of people outside of Preble County,” he said. “So to bring those people into the county and run the risk of having someone bring that disease in was a big factor in the way we looked at it.”
With the Pork Festival falling victim like many other local events due to COVID-19, the focus for the board now moves to the 2021 Preble County Pork Festival.
“The Board will begin planning the 2021 Preble County Pork Festival September 18 & 19, 2021,” the press release said. “We appreciate the support of our community and visitors and look forward to celebrating our 50th Festival with you in 2021.”
With plenty of events planned for the 50th this year, Guthrie said there will be big things happening next year.
“We have some, hopefully some big things that we can get back in there next year, some of the things we had planned for this year and we’re hoping for bigger and better next year,” he said.
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Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @BradenMoles