For just the third time in its 109-year history, the Stanislaus County Fair is canceled — this time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 38th District Agriculture Association Board of Directors announced Friday that the 2020 fair will not take place this year, with plans to bring the event back to Turlock in the summer of 2021. The fair has only been canceled twice before: first during World War I, then during World War II.
“It is not an easy choice. It has been very difficult to put this thing together, but we are very optimistic about next year and we are making this decision with your safety and health in mind,” Stanislaus County Fair chief operating officer Matt Cranford said. “We want to get everybody back outside, back to life as we used to know it and we want to see everybody back here at the fair next year.”
The decision comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced that mass gatherings would not likely occur in California during the months of June, July and August. Fair officials consulted Stanislaus County and State health officials when making the decision.
Cranford stated that although the cancellation of this year’s event will have a tremendous economic impact on the fair and fair partners, the decision came as an effort to help the community get through the coronavirus pandemic quickly and safely. To address the youth who have started their livestock projects, fair staff is working on a virtual livestock auction plan to help them complete the experience without the fair.
“We do value what they do,” Cranford said of the students who show animals. “They’ve worked very hard this last year on their livestock projects and it is a major component for our fairgrounds...we want to recognize them for their hard work. That doesn’t change at all with cancelling the fair.”
The fair was set to open at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on July 10 for a 10-day run, with acts like Smash Mouth and Hunter Hayes lined up for shows on the free concert stage. Other neighboring fairs, like those in San Joaquin and Merced counties, have also been canceled, and the California State Fair and Food Festival also announced on Friday that it would be not be taking place this year. The state fair was scheduled to run July 17 through Aug. 2 at Cal Expo.
“The health and safety of the community, our guests and staff is our number one priority. Canceling this summer’s California State Fair is the right thing to do, and is in line with the measured, scientific approach that’s been implemented by the governor and health officials to fight COVID-19,” Cal Expo General Manager and CEO Rick Pickering said in a statement. “California Exposition and State Fair is a proud member of the statewide community and we will continue to do our part to combat COVID-19.”
For more information on a virtual livestock auction, visit stancofair.com.
— Journal Digital Content Manager/Producer Frankie Tovar contributed to this story.