At Thursday night’s Crawford County Fair Board meeting via Zoom, the fair board approved a motion to make their final decision about the 2020 Fair by June 1. All eight members of the board approved Kathy Klink’s motion to “send a letter to Variety asking to move the artist contracts to 2021 and make a final decision (on the 2020 Crawford County Fair) by June 1.” 

The motion carried two key bullet points, first and foremost, the fate of this year’s fair and second, the possibility of having the same acts return to the fair in 2021.

“I think the time is drawing near that we will need to make a decision on the fair,” Fair Board President George Deshner said as he introduced the topic of making a final decision about the fair. “We have not made the decision yet, but we need to come up with a time that the will decision will be made, so everyone in the public will know.”

There was a fair amount of debate between board members and others in attendance about whether or not the potential two week period between the end of Thursday’s meeting and June 1 is too long or a fair amount of time to make that large of a decision. 

Desher introduced the idea of a June 1 special meeting saying that it “gives us two weeks of additional information” and “we can check on what’s happening.” 

Board member Kenneth Hyde provided a little bit a pushback saying that he couldn’t “see how we could have the fair.” Hyde cited liability concerns in case there was spread of the virus and how much work would have to go into adjusting the fair in order to maintain proper safety protocols. First Vice President of the board, William Good, also agreed with Hyde’s liability concern.

Second Vice President Dean Maynard wanted to “continue transparency” with the fair’s “customers” and added “what’s two more weeks to make a good decision.”

Crawford County Commissioner Christopher Soff believed the two-week waiting period for a final decision was “too long.” 

“Every indication we hear is that not if but when COVID-19 returns with a vengeance in the fall it will be worse than it is now,” Soff said. “I just think it’s too much of a risk for 2020. I think we’re going to serve this community better by making the determination now rather than waiting for two weeks.”

Prior to the passing motion being voted upon, Deshner added that he wanted to keep the fair’s contractors, vendors and sponsors in the loop “out of a matter of courtesy” before any decision was made.

“This gives them the opportunity to react before we make a final decision,” Deshner said. “I would certainly want to bring them up to speed and not just pick up the newspaper and see the fair had been cancelled. I don’t feel June 1 is that unreasonable.” 

The members of the fair board didn’t believe the June 1 deadline was unreasonable as Klink’s motion, which was seconded by Maynard, passed unanimously. A special meeting will be had before or on June 1 and will be announced in the near future at least 24 hours in advance.

During his opening remarks about the time frame of making a decision on the fair, Deshner disclosed an email that was he received “just before the meeting started” from Todd Boltin, the President/CEO of Variety Attractions about the logistics of rescheduling the same acts.

“What I need from (the fair board) is a document on fair letterhead from the board with a brief explanation of ‘due to COVID-19 and concerns of the board for the safety of fair goers and the board’s responsibility to keep patrons safe, etc.’ that the board would be rescheduling the fair for 2021. I will need to have individual discussions with each artist’s agent and manager to go through the proper protocol. This should not be a problem, but please know this is not an overnight process,” Deshner read from Boltin’s email. “It could take 8-10 days to get everything resolved once I get a letter from the board if you were officially cancelling the shows. We just have to be sensitive that all agents, managers and artists are aware of any rescheduling and onboard before it is released to the media. That’s the proper protocol that all other fairs have been following and rescheduling their lineups from this year to 2021.”

The Fair Board, through the passing of Klink’s motion, agreed to reach out to Boltin to get more information about the possibility of rescheduling the same lineup that were to perform at this year’s fair for 2021. Scheduled for this year’s grandstand are singer/ventriloquist Darci Lynne on Sunday, Aug. 23; county superstar Brad Paisley, along with Jordan Davis, for country night on Monday, Aug. 24; and Zach Williams and Tauren Wells, along with special guests We Are Messengers, for Christian night on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Passing motions

— The Board passed a unanimous motion to establish a “Contingency Plan Committee” in order to prepare for ways to still hold some events throughout the summer in case the entire fair week was cancelled. Maynard agreed to chair the committee. Many ideas were being tossed around as possible backup plans in case the fair was cancelled which led to the formation of the committee.

— The board also passed a unanimous motion, from Maynard, to table the approval of a contract with West Mead Township Police for policing the fair.

— The final unanimous motion that was passed, made by a simple roll call vote, was to continue with a program in conjunction with Laurel Technical Institute that allowed an intern to serve 150 hours with the Fair Board over the summer term that would serve as a clerk or receptionist.

Tabled topics

The Board tabled a number of topics due to uncertainty of the future of the fair because of COVID-19. Among the tabled items:

— filling the board’s Secretary vacancy; Assistant Secretary Susan Tau has been taking on some of those responsibilities in the mean time.

— the Horse & Pony Barn Stall Replacement

— the production of the Fair Book and brochures

Next meeting

Apart from the upcoming special meeting, the next regular meeting of the Crawford County Fair Board will be held on June 11, at 6 p.m. The meeting will likely be held via ZOOM.

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