Coronavirus: Gov. DeWine backs decision to cancel 2020 Ohio State Fair

Coronavirus: Gov. DeWine backs decision to cancel 2020 Ohio State Fair
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a news conference April 16th, 2020

COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine said he supports the decision by the State Fair Board to cancel this year’s Ohio State Fair.

The annual event held in Columbus, occasionally touted by previous governors as the biggest in the nation, had been scheduled to run July 29 to Aug. 9.

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DeWine, speaking Thursday at his briefing on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said he worried about crowd size and the spread of the virus.

“The idea of having a state fair this year with that many people coming together just didn’t work. But it’s certainly a sad day,” he said.

It will be the first time since the 1940s the fair has not been held. The only interruption then was the outbreak of WWII. The fair dates back to the 1840s but wasn’t held in Columbus until 1874. Before locating permanently in the capitol city, the fair moved about the state each year.

According to the Ohio History Connection, the state fair was held in Dayton five times in the 1860s and 1870s and twice in Springfield in the 1870s.

Thursday’s announcement may foreshadow what lies ahead for county fairs throughout the Miami Valley. Local fair managers have asked the DeWine administration for permission to have full fairs with limited rides and special controls for social distancing and sanitization. DeWine said he has been talking with the head of a special working group that studied the issue, former State Representative Jim Buchy of Greenville.

At his briefing Thursday, DeWine said no decision has been made on county fairs.

“The objective, and I don’t know if that objective can be achieved, is that certainly at a minimum that we be able to have the Junior Fairs,” he said.

An announcement on the county fairs could come at the governor’s next COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, following the Memorial Day holiday.