Last week the Kansas State Fair Board voted to move forward with a 2020 fair. This Monday, the Hutchinson News reported the board reversed course, though plans are in the works to allow livestock and 4-H events.
"While we knew this year’s Fair was going to be different, we realized we weren’t going to be able to provide the same annual tradition that Fairgoers have come to expect," said Fair Board President Harmon Bliss in a news release. "While we are heartbroken there will not be a Kansas State Fair this year, we want to make sure the Fair is on solid footing for another 100 years."
There are some mixed feelings and emotions about all of this certainly. This pandemic has caused so many of us to give up things we deeply enjoy. But we’ve given them up for the greater good. We’ve faced so many ethical dilemmas this year, but it doesn’t show signs of stopping.
We take no pleasure in hearing the Kansas State Fair is canceled. The fair in many ways is the a great showcase of what makes our state wonderful. It’s a Kansas tradition after all.
The first "official" Kansas State Fair was held Sept. 13-20, 1913. This year will be the first time in its 100-plus-year history that the event has been canceled.
We understand the desire to keep that streak alive. We understand the emotional weight a decision like this takes, but the harsh reality of the situation is COVID-19 isn’t going away and public safety should always take the top priority. We can’t mortgage public safety for temporary fun and pronto pups.
For those board members who were torn, please know we sympathize but appreciate your willingness to pivot in the name of public safety.
We’re slightly disappointed that it took this long for the board to reach the same conclusion, but nevertheless, the cancellation was the right thing to do. It’s heartening to see that an objective decision came about.
The primary motivation to cancel fair manager Robin Jennison noted came from comments from the community and vendors. It was expected that less than 50% of the regular vendors would be present. The challenges that the pandemic presented were simply too great. We appreciate everyone who spoke out. Thank you.
We’re also glad to see the livestock and 4-H events could possibly still take place. After all, these are at the heart of why the fair exists. So many young Kansans have spent countless hours preparing to showcase their work. It’s commendable that the board is attempting to salvage this portion if possible.
Hopefully, we’ll see you at the fair next year.