Editor's Note: Immediately after the posting of this article, Vinton County Junior Fair Board President Austin Owings told The Telegram that the status of the fair will be likely be reviewed again soon if the governor addresses issues involving fairs and festivals later in the week, which he anticipates.)

The Vinton County Junior Fair Board is planning to conduct its full slate of activities for this year’s fair unless continuing government restrictions associated with COVID-19 prohibit it. The 2020 fair is scheduled for July 20-25.

In an interview with The Telegram, Vinton County Junior Fair Board President Austin Owings stated the fair board is continuing to proceed as normal, planning fair-week activities, although the fairgrounds are currently closed. Some fair-related activities have been moved until fair time. For example some weigh-ins will now take place on Sunday of fair week. Pre-fair activities start Saturday, July 18. 

Owings stated activities such as the queen's contest, motorsports events, concerts, horse shows, rides, and the rodeo shows are all proceeding as normal as of now. There are still discussions about the 4-H Livestock Auction. The questions center around who would be allowed to attend or if it will be streamed with live bidding. Owings stated board members are waiting to see what restrictions might still be in place as the fair nears.

Owings explained the fair is a time to place the 4-H and FFA kids in the media and public spotlight and recognize their accomplishments. Announcements about the status of the Livestock Auction will be made as fair time nears. If the auction is to be online, Internet access points must be worked out as well as the procedures. Again, this is an ongoing issue and the details will be worked out as it becomes necessary to do so.

 While the fair board members are swinging into their busy time, they are also looking toward the future with several projects the board hopes to accomplish. The biggest one is building a new show arena. The board is applying for a $50,000 Capital Improvement Grant to build a new show arena. Owings says Internet broadband access can be built into it.  

“A new show arena would be a great addition to the fairgrounds,” Owings exclaimed.

 The fair board is also working to upgrade all the campsites to have full utility services. These full-service campsites are often in demand not only during fair week, but also by tourists and construction crews other weeks of the year.

Down the line, Owings stated the fair board may want to look at replacing the Commercial Building and some barns as well. Last year, a new concession stand opened and Mullins Pizza has refurbished the old one but is planning to do more work.

Owings believes the fairgrounds and facilities are an important resource to Vinton County and wants them to help the county to be an event and destination center.