|N.C. State Fair canceled due to coronavirus|
|Published Friday, July 31, 2020|
RALEIGH — The North Carolina State Fair has been canceled for this year due to safety, financial and attendance challenges from COVID-19, State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced Wednesday.
The fair, which was first held in 1853, is one of the state’s largest annual attractions, bringing in roughly 1 million visitors during its 11-day run that begins in mid-October. The fair was last canceled during World War II. State and regional fairs across the country already have been canceled due to the coronavirus.
“We have hoped, we have prayed and we have schemed, and we have thought and thought and thought,” Troxler said at a news conference, but “after very careful consideration, this is really the only logical decision that we can make.”
Troxler, whose agency oversees the fair, cited safety for patrons, staff and vendors for the decision, including the uncertainty of whether current mass gathering restrictions will be eased. Troxler also said a survey of past fair ticket buyers found two-thirds of them would be hesitant to attend a fair this year. “Our No. 1 priority must be the safety of the public and everyone who enters the fairgrounds,” he said.
The State Fair costs around $6.8 million to produce annually and doesn’t receive an operating appropriation from the General Assembly. Troxler said the fair can now cancel contracts for this year’s fair without incurring monetary penalties.
The N.C. State Fairgrounds in west Raleigh already has felt the monetary sting from the pandemic. The fair has lost $2.3 million in revenue since February as close to 200 events have been canceled, Troxler said.
Plans will now move ahead for the October 2021 fair, he said. And Troxler said horse and junior livestock shows still will be held at the fairgrounds this October with proper social distancing.
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