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Canyon County Fair to host FFA and 4-H livestock only, no carnival, no concerts

Fair and county officials expressed concern over the ability of the fair and county to enforce social distancing with a typical attendance of 13,000 people per day.

CALDWELL, Idaho — As state fairs and rodeos across the country are announcing cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns, the Canyon County Fair hopes to retain what officials say the fair is “all about,” the 4-H and FFA youth.

In a Board of Canyon County Commissioners meeting Friday, fair and county officials expressed concern over the ability of the fair and county to enforce social distancing with a typical attendance of 13,000 people per day.

In an effort to retain the fair experience for 4-H and FFA students, and not risk a county-wide outbreak of COVID-19, the fair will likely move to a 4-H and FFA livestock schedule. No final decision was made Friday, but the county commissioners gave their approval for the move.

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Canyon County Fair Director Dianna Sinner said the fair would likely be only available to 4-H and FFA students, but would allow the students to show the same amount of animals they typically would.

“I believe if we are going to do an in-person show, we might as well let them bring all the species,” Sinner said.

The new structure would reduce the number of people coming to the fair and would ensure people would be spread out, Sinner said.

Each of the stakeholders at the county meeting agreed the move is necessary.

“There is no way to enforce social distancing at an event like that,” said Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue at the meeting. “I am not sending deputies out there to enforce social distancing. I don’t have the manpower.”

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Donahue said he doubted the Caldwell Police Department had the officers to spare either.

“We have dodged having COVID-19 in our jails in Idaho,” Donahue said. “If you put on an event like this and there are fights and disturbances, people are going to jail and the staff could be exposed.”

Sinner added that the fair has been fielding calls from people across the western United States, asking if the fair would be held and hoping to attend if it is.

“People across the country have had their fairs cancelled and they are wanting to come to ours,” she said.

RELATED: Several major Treasure Valley events scheduled for summer 2020 canceled because of coronavirus

Sinner also added that Southwest District Health asked the fair to “discourage attendance from travelers from communities with large amounts of coronavirus cases.” Sinner and others agreed that would also be impossible to enforce.

There was no action taken by the Board of Canyon County Commissioners, but Commissioner Tom Dale said they could trust Sinner and her staff to move forward with the changes discussed at the meeting.

The county fair is still scheduled for July 23-26.

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