Yates County Fair 2021 canceled

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
The directors of the Yates County Fair Agricultural Society announced last week their decision to cancel the fair for 2021 due to Covid restrictions.

PENN YAN – May 10, the directors of the Yates County Fair Agricultural Society announced the cancellation of the fair for 2021.

"Due to the ongoing and ever-changing covid restrictions, we want to do the best we can by our supporters,  public, and board members. We are canceling the Yates County Fair for this year, and we are looking forward to 2022!" reads their post on the fair's Facebook page.

This is the second year in a row the Yates County Fair has been forced to cancel their July exhibition. The fair was established in 1839 as an economic boost for area farmer families to show their best livestock and produce in competition, attracted by considerable cash prizes and a reputation for excellence. The fair also let them share the latest advancements in farming technology, an opportunity for social gathering, and for some carnival type fun on the midway.

Later, the participation of 4-H youth became integral to the fair, and education became another key component of the annual exhibition, along with opportunities for the best to advance to the New York State Fair later in the summer.

The State Fair will be going ahead from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, but with severe restrictions and monitoring that will be enforced at the gates and on the grounds. Daily admission is planned to be limited to approximately 50 percent of capacity for the areas available for attendees to allow for social distancing. Capacity limits will be reexamined and adjusted if necessary to comply with health and safety guidelines. The fairground's buildings will not be open to the public, except for bathrooms. Attendees will be required to observe social distancing and wear masks, except when eating or drinking. People buying food and drinks will be asked to sit while they eat and drink, and ample tables and dining spaces will be made available. Midway rides, games and attractions, as well as all surfaces of frequent customer contact will be rigorously and frequently cleaned and sanitized.

Yates County Fair General Manager Jim Folts says that kind of enforcement is only possible with the luxury of the paid staff at the State Fair, while the local fair relies on a small but dedicated troupe of volunteers.

"There are just too many regulations from the Department of Health for it to be feasible with our number of volunteers," says Folts. He also mentioned the possibility Covid cases could suddenly rise in the area, which would cancel the fair at the last minute, and whci would be a financial disaster for one of the oldest fairs in the country.

"There are just too many limitations on an event like this. We have to book all the rides, acts, and vendors early, and we just can't take that chance," Folts says.