PLATTSBURGH — The welfare of people in the community was the major concern that led the Clinton County Fair's board to unanimously vote to cancel this year's event Tuesday night.
Fair Manager Mike Perrotte told the Press-Republican that the group had been monitoring U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidelines regarding COVID-19, and had been in several conversations with Clinton County Director of Public Health John Kanoza.
The many remaining unknowns also played into the decision.
"We don’t know how long this thing is going to go on, and if we have to do social distancing, there’s no way we can do a fair under those circumstances," Perrotte said.
He added that the Plattsburgh Bluegrass Festival was also canceled.
The board members waited as long as they could to make the decision, given all the vendors and sponsors they would have to work with and the necessary scheduling it takes to organize the fair.
"You just can’t wait until the week before the fair and decide you’re going to have a fair," Perrotte said.
He pointed to how recent parties had led to a spike in COVID-19 cases — Kanoza had said during a briefing Wednesday morning that 14 positive or probable cases had been identified in connection with those gatherings.
"We’re talking about several thousand people per day at the fair," Perrotte said.
He added that no one on the fair board gets paid or earns a profit for helping to coordinate the event.
"It’s because they care about the fair and the community and love the fair, like we all do, and want it to be a fun place. Certainly under these circumstances, it wouldn’t be that much fun."
Additionally, Amusements of America, the carnival operator that was set to return to the fair this year, was unsure if it would be able to travel to Clinton County, since other fairs in the area that it contracts with had already canceled.
Perrotte said that, for the most part, vendors he had spoken with Wednesday were understanding and on board with moving things forward to next year.
For example, the fair has a three-year contract with Amusements of America, and the two parties have agreed that 2021 will be the first year of that contract instead.
People who already purchased tickets for the Jo Dee Messina concert can be refunded.
Perrotte noted that details were still being worked out on whether she would perform next year. If so, people would have the option to leave their money to reserve tickets.
And anyone who had paid for a camping spot for either the fair or the bluegrass festival can either receive a refund or secure a spot for 2021.
Perrotte encouraged people to contact the fair office at 518-561-7998 with any questions.
"We wish everyone luck through this thing and we look forward to seeing everyone next year."
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