2020 Clay County Fair postponed

The Clay County Fair Association announced today that the 2020 edition of “The World’s Greatest County Fair” will not be held and will be postponed to September 11-19, 2021.

The decision, announced following a vote by the Fair Executive Committee, was made amid concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  After weeks of exploring various options, it became clear that the Fair could not protect the health and safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, 4-H/FFA youth, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, and entertainers during the nine-day event.

As part of the decision, the Fair Association will assist Iowa State University Extension Clay County in developing opportunities for 4-H/FFA youth in 2020.

“The decision to postpone the Fair came with emotion and somewhat disbelief that it was really happening,” said Fair Association Board Chairman Charlie Elser.  “But with lots of input from our partners and staff work, the decision was the right one. It’s time to move forward and think about 2021.”

Below is a full statement from Fair CEO/Manager Jeremy Parsons:

“For the past several weeks, we have gathered information, talked with public health authorities, and dialogued with our partners all in an attempt to fulfill the Fair’s mission of providing a “safe family atmosphere” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After exploring all options, the answer is clear.  We simply cannot. The Clay County Fair will not be held in 2020.

The absolute minimum to keep our entire Fair family safe would be following the current public health recommendations of social distancing and increased sanitation.  Unfortunately, we discovered that implementing these measures would have eliminated some of our greatest Fair traditions and made other traditions unrecognizable.  We couldn’t imagine limiting the standing-room-only crowds at the draft horse show or the 4-H beef show.  Fifty percent capacity at our free entertainment tents?  No way.  We didn’t want partially empty exhibit buildings so we could properly socially distance our vendors.  For those who had already purchased reserved Grandstand tickets, we would have been forced to move or refund your seats to keep everyone separate.  We didn’t like the thought of making your family wait in socially distanced lines to enjoy Grandpa’s Barn or the Depot.  

No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t find a way to give you the entire “World’s Greatest County Fair” experience that you have come to love, expect, and deserve.

While we cannot give you the Fair this year, we are working hard to find safe ways that you can still create blue ribbon memories.  Opportunities for our local 4-H/FFA youth and local non-profits are at the forefront of that attempt, and details will be released in the coming weeks.

Our Fair is just like your home.  A strong foundation is essential for it to be secure.  For the Fair, our foundation is you – our Board, staff, volunteers, 4-H/FFA youth, exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, entertainers, and fairgoers.  This year, however, our foundation is shaky at best.  The Fair and many of our non-profit partners need large groups of volunteers and employees to make the Fair a success.  In a normal year, it is difficult to find the help; this year, it would be nearly impossible. Many people are not comfortable being around crowds for nine consecutive days, and the effect of a possible outbreak that could occur in the middle of the Fair is a risk we are not willing to take.

Also just like your home, the Fair cannot be built in a day.  Our decision must be made now.  While it would be nice to see into the future and know what September would be like in this unprecedented time, we don’t have that luxury.  We must make educated decisions based on what we know today.  Waiting any longer could have damaging effects to our many Fair partners and the Fair itself.  Preparing for the Fair requires financial commitment for many, including us, and we can’t wind up anything that can’t be unwound. 

For more than a century, your unwavering support has made us “The World’s Greatest County Fair” and we cannot thank you enough.  Just like you, we are disappointed that we won’t be together this September.  More than that, we are heartbroken because we know this decision will impact each of you directly, and our community as a whole.  However, while this was a tough decision, it is also the most responsible decision to ensure the safety of our entire Fair family, the community, and the long-term stability of the Fair itself. 

When this is all over, we know that Clay County, northwest Iowa and the entire region will need our Fair more than ever.  And, just as we have done for 103 years, we will be ready.”

For additional information and explanation, including a link to extensive FAQs, please visit https://claycountyfair.com/2020-clay-county-fair-update/

This marks the fifth time in the 103-year history of “The World’s Greatest County Fair” that the Fair will not be held.  From 1942-1945, the Fair was suspended due to World War II.

The 2021 Clay County Fair will be September 11-19.