The Vinton County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) began making plans for the 2021 Junior Fair, set for July 26-31, when they met Monday night, June 22 in regular session -- but did not reconsider having all or part of the 2020 fair.
Fair Board members made the decision back in May to cancel the 2020 fair due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation and related restrictions. That cancellation decision was confirmed when the Fair Board met again on Thursday, June 11.
During the June 22 meeting, local business owner Judi Phelps stated the Fair Board should have the 2020 Fair, or at least part of it, because it is an attraction and is a special memory for the youngsters. 
Phelps also pointed out the state is offering $50,000 to local Fair Boards to have a fair. Other people in the audience also expressed their opinion that the 4-H/FFA animal shows should be conducted even if there were no midway attractions.
 Fair Board member Audrey Robson told The Telegram, the money ($50,000) is for the prevention and elimination of the COVID-19 virus and not for general expenses. She also sent The Telegram a copy of the state guidelines which were a factor in their decision to cancel the Fair and not reconsider having part of it. 
According to regulations from the State of Ohio Controlling Board that were sent to The Telegram, the guidelines included: “Local fairs are important to local communities throughout the state and will incur costs to comply with health measures this summer and fall, including, but not limited to, items for necessary sanitation, social distancing, PPE, and signage and for personnel to comply with public-health orders. Examples of items that will be necessary include masks, gloves, disinfectant sprays, and wipes, health and security staffing, professional sanitation staffing, and directional signage throughout facilities and grounds to ensure appropriate and necessary distancing measures are maintained.” 
The Vinton County Fair Board is opting instead to accept the $15,000 the state is offering to help them plan for next year’s fair.
Earlier in an interview with The Telegram, Fair Board President Austin Owings explained the Board was hopeful the money from the state could be used for regular bills such as utility bills and other expenses. Those bills are high in July and without the income from rides and concessioners, he said the Board could not afford to operate with a loss.
 The other main issue for the Fair Board was the unclear picture of liability issues resulting from potential lawsuits. Many people in the crowd made comments that the state has exempted county fair boards from lawsuits. Robson stated while there is a bill in the Ohio General Assembly to exempt county fair boards from COVID-19-related lawsuits, it has not passed yet and there is a possibility it could be overturned by a federal court if someone challenges it. She explained further that while the Board’s insurance company covers them for most lawsuits, but not from ones related to the virus.
Robson also noted that a lawsuit could come back on the Fair Board members personally. Robson stated the board is volunteer-based and they are there for the kids and want to have a fair. However, she added until the liability situation is clear, the Board felt it could not take a risk. 
However, the Board’s goal is to have bigger and better fair in 2021.