Ottawa County Fair hobbled by state restrictions

Mar 17, 2021 | Featured | 0 comments

The Junior Fair will continue at the Ottawa County Fair on July 19-25, but Covid-19 state restrictions could again cancel nightly entertainment in 2021. Madelyn Lenke competed with Freckles the goat at the 2018 fair. (Photo by D’Arcy Patrick Egan)

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

With the 57th annual Ottawa County Fair rolling into the Ottawa County Fairgrounds on July 19-25, board members and the many fans of the down-home fair were hoping to return to the good old days.

State restrictions due to Covid-19, however, may curtail the summer fun for a second straight year.

Last year, the Junior Fair ruled, as kids competed with horses, sheep, steers, poultry, goats and rabbits. Because of Covid-19 state rules on face coverings, distancing and large crowds, smaller crowds were deemed appropriate and the nightly entertainment had to be scrapped.

It appears that might well be the case again this year.

The Ohio Department of Health issued a revised order last week that allows for the reopening of all fair activities if certain health conditions are met. The updated order includes compliance with the statewide mask order and social distancing.

The rule that will hobble a good, old-fashioned family fair is a requirement that gatherings be limited to just 25% of maximum capacity for indoor grandstand capacity and a 30% maximum for outdoor grandstand capacity.

“Nothing has really changed from last year,” said board member Mike Libben. “With those limitations, we can’t have the crowds that allow us to afford good entertainment.”

Libben said the summertime event draws two distinct types of crowds.

“The kids and their families come for the Junior Fair and the livestock shows. They are people who like camping at the fairgrounds and socializing with their rural neighbors.

“Then we have the adults from all around the area who come to enjoy county fair food, visit the exhibits, watch the demolition derby and horse racing, and especially crowd the grandstand for the nightly entertainment.”

The Senior Fair Board, which maintains the fair grounds and ultimately decides events at the fair, are in charge of all non-youth oriented activities and open shows. It can’t afford to lose money during its biggest week of the year.

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