BAKERSFIELD - The Kern County Fair will go dormant for 2020, and will return Sept. 22-Oct. 3, 2021, after the the Kern County Fairgrounds Board of Directors voted to cancel the event for this year during a Monday meeting.
The decision was made based on the rising number of coronavirus cases in Kern County, something that pushed the county back onto the state monitoring list Tuesday.
The fair board had pushed the decision up until the last minute with the hope that a fair could still go on. However, a surge in numbers that neared 800 new positive cases came up on Monday alone made that decision even harder.
Kern County Fair CEO made the recommendation, citing the state's health mandates as an obstacle.
"“Our numbers are going backwards very, very quickly with the increase in positive tests here at the fairgrounds. We’re testing daily. Things don’t look as good as they did in June,” he said. “I don’t see any way that we can go forward with fair under these conditions.”
The fairgrounds have acted as a county COVID-19 testing site.
In its postponement notice, the fair noted the hardship in making the decision.
"Believe us when we say, no one is more heartbroken about this decision than we are. We evaluated all the components that make up our traditional county fair and came to the conclusion that we cannot bring those same traditions to our community given the current COVID-19 situation," the Kern County Fair announcement stated. "This time apart will give us the opportunity to properly prepare for the return of the Kern County Fair that you all know and love, September 22 - October 3, 2021."
The fairgrounds announcement noted that it studied every angle before the decision was made.
"There were a million different scenarios that we considered; social distancing at the carnival, waiting for restroom sanitizations regularly, standing in line for food or merchandise, wearing face masks in hot weather, limiting crowd sizes at concerts and grandstand events, one way aisles, making hand sanitizer with the proper alcohol content available everywhere you turn, the list goes on,' the announcement stated.
Postponing the fair until later in the year would do no good, given the current unknown path the state will take with the COVID-19 case.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in issuing new guidelines for states earlier in July, noted that the virus would be a constant for the foreseeable future.
The annual fair acts as the fairgrounds' main revenue generator for the year. Without it, layoffs are likely, though unsure of how extensive they would be. However, for the moment, the fairgrounds sits in the black with $744,000 in the bank, according to board member Lucas Espericueta.
"Our cash reserves are sitting pretty good,” Espericueta said at Monday's meeting.
The fairgrounds will continue with its livestock auction, however. On June 29, the board decided to host the event as a virtual show. The virtual Livestock Show and Sale will provide Kern County Exhibitors the opportunity to show and sale their animal online.
"We know that our youth livestock exhibitors are working hard to raise their projects for the 2020 Fair,” Olcott in a June 29 news release “With all the unknowns about the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that the only option to guarantee a show and sale for these exhibitors was to move towards a virtual alternative.”
The virtual show will require students to submit a 60-second video showcasing their animal. Students will also need to submit all required documentation by the July 29 submission deadline.
For more information on the cancelation and livestock, visit https://www.kerncountyfair.com/p/about/postponement-answers