County fairs making a comeback? It’s too soon to tell

County fairs making a comeback? It’s too soon to tell
County fairs in the north country had to be called off last year because of COVID-19. It's still not clear if they'll be back this year. (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - County fairs in the north country are some of the longest running in the country and for the first time in possibly centuries, they had to be called off last year because of COVID-19.

But with the Governor’s announcement last week saying that outdoor amusement parks can reopen on April 9 at 33 percent capacity, there is hope for this year’s fairs.

“We’re going forward like we’re going to have a fair,” said Lewis County Fair president Doug Hanno. “There will be some questions we have to answer along the way.”

Bob Simpson, the president of the Jefferson County Fair, hopes to get back to normal this year as well. But after the State Association of Fairs met with representatives in Albany on Monday, Simpson says reopening could be a challenge.

“Fairs were not included in the opening of amusement parks and that kind of stuff,” Simpson said. “Fairs are going to come somewhere down the road we hope.”

Simpson is hopeful because the governor did say he wants to have the state fair which is a few weeks after Jefferson County’s.

But the concern is capacity. Would enough people be allowed in for the fair to make money? Hanno isn’t sure.

“We survive and we thrive on the shows that we put on in the grandstand,” Hanno said. “If we have to cut that down to 30 percent, I’m not sure that it’s feasible to have those big shows.”

Simpson says they will start planning the Jefferson County Fair soon, but they need more details first.

“Every fair in the state is just waiting for information and guidance and looking to get going,” he said.

Simpson says it’s unclear when those details will come.

Regardless, both Simpson and Hanno say they do want to have an in-person fair, but they will comply with regulations.

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