Board cancels county fair
By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer~Democrat managing editor
There will be no joy at the fairgrounds come June. The harness racing, demolition derby, queen pageant, amusement rides and carnival games, food and animals won’t be there in 2020.
The Macoupin County Fair and Agricultural Association Board of Directors voted Monday evening to cancel this year’s fair. It was a unanimous decision made by those in attendance at the Bates building May 4.
“It’s beyond disappointing,” said Fair Board president Kim Carney Rhodes of Monday’s choice to cancel. “It was a very somber meeting and a very somber decision.”
To her knowledge, this is the first time since the Great Depression that the Macoupin County Fair has not been held.
The event was supposed to take place Tuesday, June 9 through Saturday, June 13.
“In today’s world, with so many unknowns, we feel it is in the best interest of the county, vendors, sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers and fairgoers to make this decision,” said Fair Board president Kim Carney Rhodes in a prepared statement. “We had an amazing 2020 fair planned and we look foroward to being back bigger and better in 2021. We will be ready to make up for our lost time with those who all love the county fair as much as we do.”
The Fair Board had been reviewing recommendations from the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. The association had a conference call in late April with more than 140 people participating, with individuals from all over the state, plus representatives from the international arm of that organization, Rhodes said.
“Our executive committee had been meeting and communicating frequently since we went into social distancing the first time,” Rhodes said.
Those that had already gotten tickets for the Riley Green concert would be refunded directly through the Eventbrite web site, according to Rhodes.
“We apppreciate the amazing support for the Riley Green Show and we look forward to bringing another great artist to the 2021 fair,” Rhodes said.
The Macon County Fair, scheduled for June 8-14, announced plans to cancel in early April.
In addition, she has been led to believe the Greene County, scheduled for Aug. 2 through 8, may potentially postpone its festivities. The annual Old Settlers Days, set for Aug. 2, 5 and 6 in Hillsboro, announced plans to cancel earlier this month.
Since the choice to cancel was made Monday evening, Rhodes said she had been receiving phone calls and messages nonstop. Many were from other county fairs across the state.
“It’s a big community,” she said. “They’re disappointed and they know they will have to make a decision. The governor’s decision June 1 will have a big role in what happens in other counties.”
At his press briefing April 9, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said those in charge of planning large events should consider cancelling them.
“Everybody needs to think seriously about cancelling large summer events. From my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people, again, until we have a vaccine,” Pritzker said April 9.
The Carlinville Winning Communities group is planning a fireworks display for Friday, July 3.
With the fireworks, most people stay in their vehicles, Rhodes noted.
“Hopefully they will be able to have that,” she said.
Rhodes remains optimistic an event or recognition can take place for those involved in agriculture later this year.
“Our mission involves children and agriculture,” she said. “If we see an opportunity to support that effort later this summer, we will look to do something.”