County fair organizers ask: What about us?

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - When Governor Cuomo announced there will be a state fair this year, local fair organizers perked up, asking about the fate of county fairs.

While the future of the state fair is clearer, county fair organizers are still in the dark about 2021.

“We want some guidance,” said Bob Simpson, president, Jefferson County Fair.

Cuomo came out with guidance earlier on Monday for the state fair when he announced “the fair must go on.”

But so far, there’s nothing for county fairs.

“What we’re really disappointed in is we’re waiting to find out just what we have to do to have a fair,” said Simpson.

He’s hoping the waiting won’t last long.

“We’ve been told we should get some guidance very soon. But very soon is when we have to start applying for permits and stuff like that,” he said.

In Lewis County, Doug Hanno is also playing the waiting game.

“Guidelines coming down from the state have been nonexistent for us, as for as the fair is concerned,” he said.

And when the guidelines do come out, it could be tricky enforcing them.

“We’re 24 directors, plus quite a few associate directors; we all have big roles during the week of the fair. To say we need to start policing social distancing and police people that are wearing masks, I’m not sure we can do that,” said


Tricky for fair directors, but also for local vendors. Hanno says one vendor has already called, saying if capacity is capped at 50 percent, it’s not worth it.

“That may have some effect on the vendors we get. We may have some that don’t show if they can’t make money,” said Hanno.

Hanno says they’re being proactive though and will be meeting with Public Health on Tuesday to go over how the fair may look and, more importantly, for Lewis County residents, how it will look for a milestone year.

“It may take us 201 years to get to our 200th fair, but we’re going to get there one way or another,” said Hanno.

Governor Cuomo also announced new guidelines for gyms, offices and casinos. All three are increasing their capacities.

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