The Crawford County fair board officially set the dates for the 2021 Crawford County fair during their meeting at the fairgrounds on Thursday. The fair board members voted to hold the fair next year from Saturday, Aug. 21 to Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021.

Many of the contracts made with vendors for the fair this year will be carried over to next year, vendor coordinator Joe Hassinger told the fair board, although some checks that have not been cashed yet will be sent back to those who requested their return.

Fair board president George Deshner added that many non-concert entertainment contracts for 2020 were willing to move to 2021 fair, and that artists lined up for concerts this year in particular were “very cooperative” and the fair owes no money to them. 

The artists are looking at their schedules to potentially perform for the 2021 fair, but they are currently overwhelmed with cancellations themselves, Deshner said.

Deshner debunked the misconception he said has been going around saying the board has lost thousands of dollars from contracts for the 2020 fair, saying the fair only has to pay out about $2,800 for 2020 contracts.

Deshner also said there has been confusion on whether taxpayer money goes toward the fair, to which he said unlike the fairgrounds property, the fair itself has always been self-sufficient and does not receive funding from taxpayer money. The fair board members need to “put on our thinking caps” to come up with funding as a result, Deshner said.

Potential for 2020 events

Although the fair board voted at its meeting on May 26 to cancel the 2020 Crawford County Fair due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the contingency planning committee has placed agricultural events—especially youth ones—at the top of the priority list for potential events that could still be held this year, board member Dean Maynard said Thursday.

Paula Lucas, a 4-H educator for the Penn State Extension in Crawford County, told the fair board that Penn State is not permitting in-person 4-H activities through June 30, and that a decision by the university on the status of activities scheduled for July 1 and beyond will be made by June 15.

There is potential that a “Junior Show” could be held with events such as agriculture-related exhibitions and the livestock auction occurring in-person, virtually or a hybrid of the two, but concrete decisions will not be made until the fair board knows how involved 4-H can be.

“Obviously we want to try to have the in-person experience for the youth,” Lucas said.

Maynard said the contingency planning committee members were eager with interest and excitement about the potential to hold events during their last meeting held virtually, and the committee will meet once again on Monday to continue to discuss priorities.

Other business

— The fair board discussed matters pertaining to both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 Capital Improvement Grants through the Department of Agriculture that would assist in financing projects around the fairgrounds.

Deshner said he and board treasurer Ryan Smith have yet to receive and sign the contract for the 2019-20 Capital Improvement Grant that would fund the ongoing horse and pony barn stall replacements, and that the board will need to prepare a letter of extension for the grant by June 30.

The board will also need to submit the two projects to apply for funding for the 2020-21 Capital Improvement Grants by June 30. After some discussion, the board voted to put improvements to structures in the dairy facilities as the first–priority project and the horse and pony barn stall replacements as the second priority for the grants.

Although the horse and pony barn stall replacements are part of a five-year plan put together by the board, board member Ken Hyde noted that the board “has to get something done” to keep the dairy facilities within code.

— The fair board passed a motion to allow the purchase of bricks for the “Buy a Brick Campaign” for the fair’s 75th anniversary to be extended for one more year, as requested by 75th Anniversary Committee member Phyllis Carr.

Carr said the committee would be better prepared for 2021 and the changes it needs to make for 75th anniversary celebrations with the extension.

“We need more money to do all the things we have planned,” Carr told the fair board.

— The board voted to set a standard fee of $25 per square foot for vendors placed along the road between Gate 3 and Gate 2. Board member Adam Raney said the vendor committee noticed a discrepancy in pricing for vendors set-up in that area and recommended the standardization. 

— Deshner suggested that since the fair is cancelled, the fair board could take some actions to help alleviate expenditures between now and the 2021 fair.

Such actions could include a “seasonal downgrade” for some of the 15 phone lines set up on the fairgrounds, discontinue a website maintenance agreement with WDD, standardize the ribbons that are awarded and potentially create a “Friends of the Fair” lifetime fair pass for patrons, Deshner said, adding that his suggestions are just thoughts the fair board members could consider and not necessarily take action on.

— After conducting a handful of interviews, Maynard said the nominating committee recommended that Lisa Dunn fill the open fair board position. The fair board approved the appointment, and Deshner said it would be sent to the Crawford County commissioners for them to review and vote on. 

— Deshner introduced Hannah Myers from Laurel Technical Institute as the fairground’s intern for this summer, adding that Myers will assist with various projects and reports throughout the summer.

— The next meeting of the Crawford County Fair Board will be held at 6 p.m. on July 9 at the county fairgrounds.

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