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Future of California Mid-State Fair: Board to discuss topic next week

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 12, 2020

COVID-19 is canceling county fairs and festivals across California.

But, so far, the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles is still scheduled as planned July 22 through August 2.

It's set to be a big topic of discussion during next week's Mid-State Fair board meeting.

The board can decide to cancel it, postpone it, or modify it. With the fair just 2 months away, a lot of decisions are in the works.

Year after year, the California Mid-State Fair is a huge draw for visitors and locals alike.

"Over 400,000 people for the last 7 or 8 years," said Tom Keffury of the California Mid-State Fair.

Organizers say it also generates between $90,000,000 and $100,000,000 for the local economy.

But this year is expected to be unlike the rest as COVID-19 plays out worldwide.

Looking at the state's 4 phased plan for guidance...

"What's July 22nd going to look like? Are we going to be in 2 are we going to be in 3? It doesn't look like we're going to be in 4 so how can we modify that?," Keffury questioned.

Big names like Carrie Underwood and Eric Church are set to take center stage but what could this mean for concertgoers?

"I guess they could look like a drive-in movie theater or they could look spread out with a lot less people, a lot fewer tables," Keffury said.

Far fewer people could be let through the gates like at the newly reopened socially distanced Disneyland in Shanghai, China.

"Locations on the grounds would be something, masks, enforcement, hand sanitizers," Keffury explained.

The fair organizers say they've waited this long to make a decision because there are thousands of livelihoods at stake.

"There's so many different people that the fair touches and so we really want to make sure that we have as much information as we possibly can before a final decision is made," Keffury said.

Nearby Holiday Inn Express & Suites says guests have already booked for the 12 days of the fair.

"It's an enormous part of our business during the Summer and so to have that go away is going to have a really big impact," said John Arnold, General Manager of Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

If the decision is made to cancel the fair, we're told a couple aspects could be pushed back to the Fall or early next year.

"One thing we've never waived on is the kids," Keffury said. "So we'll find a way to take care of our Jr. livestock exhibitors and our industrial arts exhibitors."

Meantime, organizers are watching the governor every day along with local press conferences to help nail down a plan to move forward.

"We're really trying to wait as long as we possibly can once that becomes perfectly clear one way or the other then I think a decision will be made," Keffury concluded.

The board meeting is next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

The fair has only been canceled one time since it opened in 1946.