Friday July 10, 2020

2020 Cabarrus County Fair canceled amid COVID-19 concerns

Due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabarrus County announced the cancelation of the 2020 Cabarrus County Fair. The event was scheduled for September 11-19.

Officials made the difficult decision in consultation with public health and emergency management officials.

The Fair, managed by Cabarrus County, is the largest annual event held at the County’s Arena and Events Center. In past years, it welcomed up to 80,000 people over a nine-day span. The Fair takes up the entirety of the Arena’s 25 acres of grounds and 170,000 square feet of exhibit space. It includes more than 2,000 livestock entries, 175 exhibit booths, 50 food vendors, 40 rides, 35 games and a couple dozen novelty vendors and entertainers.

The Cabarrus County Fair requires more than a year of planning by staff, volunteers and partners.

Since COVID-19 restrictions began, Cabarrus County Fair Director Kate Sharpe has explored scenarios that would allow the event to continue. At the current restriction level, staff would need to enforce state and federal guidelines for social distancing, temperature checks, proper use of face coverings and sanitation among guests and staff.

“The magnitude of implementing the recommendations for mass gathering safety measures would bring significant financial implications and compromise the Fair experience,” Sharpe said. “The safety of guests, participants and the community is the highest priority in producing the annual Fair.

“Ultimately, the risks are too great and we can’t compromise safety.”

This is the first cancelation since the agricultural fair began in 1953. Consequences of the decision, including the deep-rooted tradition of the Fair and it’s local economic impact, weighed heavily on officials. The Fair provides an economic boost to many small business, family farms and vendors. It also brings awareness to local exhibitors and community groups, and provides educational opportunities through competitions.

Sharpe—who credits local small businesses, community members and agricultural partners for the Fair’s past success—has worked closely with contacts to understand their needs and timelines.

“Making a decision now limits the financial and administrative impact on our partners,” Sharpe said. “Some Fair fans would probably attend no matter what or ask that we wait to make a decision. Many factors are at play. In the end, waiting could have devastating consequences on our partners. Holding the Fair wouldn’t give fans the experience they know and love.”

Sharpe looks forward to the Fair’s return in 2021.

“For 68 years, our community has counted on the tradition of the Fair each September,” she said. “There’s a community-wide loss in not holding it this year. By doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, we can look ahead to a time when we can safely gather again to celebrate all that is the legendary Cabarrus County Fair.”

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