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Floyd County Fair is next week, but the public isn’t invited

Floyd County Fair is next week, but the public isn't invited
The Floyd County Fairgrounds has a new playground area, a new sheltered picnic area (both in the lower left part of the photo) and a new Little Hands on the Farm building (the red building above), all built since a tornado on Memorial Day 2019 damaged much of the property. The new facilities won’t see much use at this year’s fair that starts next week however, as COVID-19 concerns have eliminated any public shows, midway, vendors, food or entertainment. Press photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson,

The county fair is a summer high point for many families, but this year the Floyd County Fair – like so many other popular activities – has been ambushed by a virus.

The Fair Board had announced already in June that the annual fair, scheduled to take place next week, would be drastically changed from the usual event because of steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Nothing is open to the public,” Fair Board President Ann Staudt told the Press this week.

“There’s no vendors out here, there’s no entertainment, there’s no grandstand. There’s no shows or anything along that line,” she said.

The Fair Board announcement in June said, “This decision was not made lightly, as we want nothing more than to have the fair. However, our volunteers, spectators, entertainers, vendors, youth exhibitors’ health and safety are our main concerns.”

Staudt said there will still be the various livestock shows, but they will be in a “show and go” format, where each exhibitor brings in his or her animal, shows it, then takes it back to their farm or their home.

“There won’t even be animals spending the night here. We’re not setting up the barns and the pens will not be set up,” Staudt said.

Each of the exhibitors will get one wristband for admittance for themselves and two wristbands to give out to family or other spectators, Staudt said.

The Iowa State Fair is operating pretty much the same way, with “show and go” livestock shows and admittance also limited to three people per group, including the exhibitor.

“We’ve been on the Iowa State Fair Association’s webinars for months, debating what we can do,” Staudt said. “So we’re kind of going off the State Fair rules. The State Fair obviously has more space than we do here, so we have to watch our numbers in our show arena with the square footage size and what we can house with social distancing.”

The schedule for the livestock shows next week is the horse show on Wednesday, July 15; sheep and goats on Thursday; poultry and rabbits on Friday; beef on Saturday; bucket/bottle shows and dog and pet shows on Sunday, July 19; and the swine show on Monday, July 20.

Arrangements are being made to have all the livestock shows live-streamed on the county fair Facebook page, Staudt said.

Static exhibits will be dropped off and judged based on write-up only, with no face-to-face judging taking place.

The Floyd County Fair Queen Competition was canceled this year, and last year’s queen, Anna Krumwiede, has agreed to hold her title until next year. The 2019 reigning Little Miss and Mister will also keep their titles and will pass them off at the 2021 crowning.

Staudt said it’s going to be a rough year for most county fairs, including Floyd County.

The Floyd County Fair usually relies on some good grandstand shows to provide revenue, but that won’t happen this year, she said.

“We’ve lost some deposits to entertainment” that had been scheduled, she said, but “other entertainment has been absolutely great and has let us reschedule for the 2021 year.”

Some of fair’s sponsors have donated anyway, and that revenue will go toward things like grounds improvement and upkeep, Staudt said, calling those sponsors “fabulous.”

“As far as our banner and trophy sponsors for all of our kids, they’ve come through and they have all paid those things so we can still get all our banners for the kids,” Staudt said. “Our showmanship stuff will all be awarded out to them. We made sure everything would be taken care of to meet all our 4-H and FFA kids’ needs.”

Staudt said it’s been a rough year overall for the fairgrounds, with most events in the spring and early summer canceled. Events such as wedding receptions in the Youth Enrichment Center which account for significant revenue were all canceled in March, April and May.

“We’ve got a lot of the weddings that will start, in August, September, October,” she said. “It’s taking us into the fall right now, which should help. We’ve lost a lot of income, obviously, like everyone else, in this pandemic, but we’re hoping to make it up in the fall and over the Christmas holiday with business parties and Christmas parties out here.”

Staudt said they have placed a limited number of tables and chairs in the Youth Enrichment Center to follow 6-foot social distancing, but the building is big enough that it will still allow fairly large events.

Although the state and especially the federal government have made billions of dollars in assistance available to businesses to help make up for lost revenues, the Fair Board hasn’t found any that the fairgrounds qualifies for, Staudt said.

“I’ve been working with (Floyd County) Emergency Management,” she said. “We haven’t found anything that will work in the fair. … We’ve lost those kind of incomes that are not replaceable through any government program that I can find at this time.”