Participants, visitors and vendors alike will be headed up to Afton Aug. 1-8 for the Lincoln County Fair. However, this year may look a little different from previous years.
“In addition to our usual tasks, our completely volunteer board is having to address regulations and concerns related to COVID-19,” said Del Cunningham, vice chairman of the fair board. “It really has been a monumental undertaking.
The fair board has had to write a plan to be approved by both the county and the state, Cunningham said.
“Things will be different,” said Joe Mackey, who is in charge of livestock events for the board. Cunningham said this is because the county commissioners have backed them and given support through the whole process.
According to Cunningham, there will be volunteers with backpack sprayers sanitizing common surfaces such as benches and handles. The carnival rides will be sanitized regularly throughout the day. The operators of rides will also offer sanitizing handwipes to everyone entering the rides. In addition, the grand stands, which usually have a capacity of 3000, will be limited to 800, Cunningham said. According to Cunningham, all employees will also be wearing mask and have their temperatures checked every day.
“We have really gone to the extreme with everything we can in order to be socially responsible,” Cunningham said.
Even though many vendors and entertainers have canceled because of COVID-19, Cunningham says the fair has filled every open spot, and even booked an act that has never been here before because of other fair cancellations.
“We have been on the waiting list for six years for Sea Lion Splash,” Cunningham said. “Other fairs were always ahead of us on the list.”
Sea Lion Splash consists of between three and six sea lions with their trainers in two large pools performing a sort of comedy show that is educational but also full of acrobatics. Cunningham said there will be three shows a day starting Tuesday, Aug. 4, through Saturday, Aug. 8.
“The carnival lost many dates this year, which is bad for them, but good for us,” Cunningham said. “This is going to be the biggest show they have ever brought.”
According to Mackey, the fair is expecting around the same number of 4-Hers in the fair this year as it had last year. He said that while things have changed in order to fit into state and CDC guidelines, all of the same events will be happening this year. Weigh-ins will take more time. The day of the sale will include a boxed breakfast and no lunch, but the kids will still be able to talk to buyers with a 6-ft distance, according to Mackey.
“Everyone is more than welcome to come support these kids and all the effort they have worked all year for,” Mackey said. “These kids are our future. We need to do our due diligence and promote them. These kids have earned it.”
This fair will be different, but the board is working hard to make it as safe as possible.
“We need the public’s cooperation to make the event successful,” Cunningham said. “We can’t eliminate the risk but we can significantly lessen it if everyone is socially responsible by wearing masks and standing 6 ft apart.”