RALEIGH – The 2020 North Carolina State Fair has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The fair was scheduled to take place Oct. 15 through 25.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said they’ve been monitoring COVID-19 guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to determine operating plans needed to produce the largest annual event held in North Carolina, but continued uncertainty forced the decision.
“I can think of a thousand places I’d rather be today than here delivering this news,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The State Fair is a tradition we all look forward to each year. It’s a vital economic engine for local non-profits, community groups, small businesses and individuals. It’s a time for family and friends to come together to celebrate everything that makes North Carolina such a great place to live. We waited as long as we could, hoping the numbers would take a turn and we’d be able to continue with our planning, but each day brought more challenges than solutions.”
Fair officials determined holding a fair that abides by the CDC and NCDHHS recommendations would not be possible.
“We looked at so many different factors,” said Fair Manager Kent Yelverton. “From social distancing, face masks, temperature checks and capacity limits to the true minutia most wouldn’t think about until you are in the moment like social distancing on our shuttle buses, cleaning carnival equipment between riders, overlapping food lines and stringent cleaning schedules. To offer anything less than what fairgoers have come to know and love would be a disservice to our community and to us. There is no halfway when producing a fair. The people, the lights, the rides, the smells, the music…all of that contributes to an atmosphere that can only be felt during a fair.”
The decision to cancel is being made now, according to officials, to mitigate expenses. Many contracts currently in place have a 60-day stipulation for cancelation with no penalty. The N.C. State Fair has had 186 events canceled, resulting in an estimated $2.3 million loss in revenue since February. The N.C. State Fair costs around $6.8 million annually to produce.
“The heart of the N.C. State Fair has always been and will continue to be our ability to showcase North Carolina agriculture. To stay true to that commitment, we will be holding our Junior Livestock Show and State Fair Horse Shows in October,” Troxler said.
“By utilizing both the Graham Building and Expo Center and spreading the junior show out through all 11 days of what would have been the fair dates, we will be able to host a livestock show that allows for proper social distancing. These kids have worked so hard all year to show at the State Fair, and I’m glad we’ve found a safe way to make that happen.”
From 1861-1868, the N.C. State Fair was canceled due to the Civil War and Reconstruction. In 1918, the N.C. State Fair was canceled due to World War I.
In 1926 and 1927, there was no fair due to reorganization after the North Carolina Agricultural Society, the then-fair’s operating board, was disbanded.
The most recent cancelation was due to World War II from 1942-1945.
The 2021 N.C. State Fair is slated for Oct. 14-24 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.