Johnson County Fair canceled due to COVID-19

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There will be no Johnson County Fair for the public to attend this summer, fair organizers announced on Thursday. The 2020 grounds and grandstand entertainment has been canceled due to COVID-19.

“After consulting with Johnson County Public Health, Johnson County Emergency Management, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, and fair board members, it was determined this was the best decision due to the uncertainty of what the public health situation may look like at the end of July,” Johnson County Fair Board President Charlie Isaacs said in a statement. “We want nothing more than to have a fair, however, volunteers, visitors; youth of Johnson County and staff health and safety are our main concern.”

Organizers said the Johnson County Agriculture Association, which runs the fair, is working with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach of Johnson County to provide “opportunities to the 4-H and FFA members to showcase their talents and accomplishments, despite the cancellation of all grounds and grandstand entertainment for the 2020 Johnson County Fair.”

Families of the 4-H and Future Farmers of America who were scheduled to take part in this summer’s fair will be notified of what those opportunities will be once plans are finalized.

The first Johnson County Fair was held in 1853, and it became an annual event until 1917. That year the Iowa City Republican reported the fair was having financial problems. The fair’s organizers, the Johnson County Agricultural and Horticultural Society, decided to discontinue it.

In 1929, the recently organized Johnson County 4-H revived the fair tradition with its first Johnson County 4-H Fair. Twenty years later, the newly formed Johnson County Agricultural Association took over management of the fair.

Last week, the Linn County Fair Association said it was canceling its grounds and grandstand entertainment this summer. The association is also working on a way to allow its 4-H and FFA members to display their work.

Fairs have been canceled in Wapello and Benton Counties as well. Decisions regarding fairs in other counties are expected to be announced in the next week.

On Tuesday, Iowa State Fair CEO and Manager Gary Slater released a statement about the current status of the state fair. He said the board of directors monitoring COVID-19 developments in the state, and have not yet made any decisions regarding changes to the fair. According to Slater, a decision is expected to be announced by mid-June.

“We have seen many changes in the past 6-8 weeks, I am sure we will continue to see things change in the coming months and days. With that being said, we are choosing to focus on what we CAN do now, what we CAN plan for now, and how we CAN bring you the best Iowa State Fair, August 13-23, 2020,” Slater said in the statement.