The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Fair Board Axes 2020 Event


The sounds of auctioneers announcing the next animal and its handler will be quiet this year, only a memory of past fairs.

There won't be any pulled-pork sandwiches or grilled hamburgers and cold soft drinks. The lights of the rides will be dark and the entertainment stages will be quiet. The annual event is the latest social casualty of the coronavirus.

The Cheyenne County Fair Board met 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 1. After careful review of the latest guidelines published by Gov. Pete Ricketts' office and local health organizations, as well as considering how many other events in the region are cancelled, the fair board decided to cancel the 2020 Fair and Rodeo events. The board is, however, working with the local 4-H clubs, Cheyenne County Extension Office, and Livestock Superintendents to develop a plan that will support the 4-H activities.

“We will be working together over the next couple of weeks on a plan that accommodates the showing of 4-H livestock and static exhibits while maintaining a safe environment in accordance with all guidelines,” said board president Troy Kurz. “This plan will need approval from local health organizations and our local government before being announced. Unfortunately, we will not be able to support open class exhibitors until next year.”

Kurz went on to say the board did not arrive at the decision easily and canceling the annual fair was done in the best interest and for the well-being of the Cheyenne County community.

“We waited as long as we could hoping we could move forward with limited events. These are unique times we are all adapting to and we don't feel we can deliver a quality, safe and responsible fair experience. We will continue working on the 4-H plan and look forward to providing a really great County Fair experience in 2021.”

The 2020 viability of the county fair is a conversation the fair board has been having for months prior to the announcement of suspending activities, The decision was made after the board was presented with the Directed Health Measures (DHM), The DHMs were presented just prior to the public announcement.

The DHMs required will far exceed what the fair can accommodate to make this happen at this time.

“We don't have facilities large enough to allow groups or crowds to attend events and still honor DHMs. We could face hefty fines, legal action, and even loss of funding by not following the measures. At the end of the day, the fairboard members are volunteers and none of us would sleep at night knowing that COVID19 was contracted by someone while attending the fair because we didn't do everything possible to prevent it. That was ultimately the deciding factor,” Kurz said.

He said the focus is on how to make this work for the 4H kids who have worked so hard this year and we are trying our hardest to make sure this is something that won't be ripped away from them so close to fair. The Extension Office has been wonderful to work alongside with and we look forward to focusing on these kids and showcasing their hard work to the best of our ability.


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