Members of the Lake County Fair Board, the Round-up Association, the Market Sales committee, 4-H and FFA met in a special session on Monday, May 11, to discuss the recent recommendations from the Governor’s office about the potential for no mass gatherings through September. While agreeing that all entities would continue to plan for a normal Fair and Round-up they are also all working on alternatives.
The closest that the Fair and Round-up have come to being canceled was during World War II. During World War II it came close to being canceled due to restrictions on gasoline and lights at night, as there were concerns about enemy fighters seeing them. The Fair and Round-up petition the Federal government and received a waiver to hold the event throughout the war.
With Gov. Kate Brown recommending that no large gatherings occur until the end of September, the members met to discuss the future and their options as both the Oregon State Fair and the Klamath County Fair have canceled for 2020.
“We need to be on the same page and communicating with each other as we reach a point of a final decision,” said Lake County Fairground Mgr. Ronne Lindsay.
Board member Brad Winters, who is also a Lake County Commissioner, said that there is a lot of emotion out in the community, though moving forward without permission from the State could jeopardize funding and lead to liability issues.
Members of the Round-up Association said it was important to hold off on making a decision. They mentioned that in terms of signing contracts with other more regional music groups they can do it up to the last moment. It could involve smaller bands. Headliner Granger Smith has not said if he is cancelling his tour or not, as one of his stops was to be the Oregon State Fair. They will know more about Smith and whether he is coming or not sometime in early July, as it depends how many other fairs on his circuit cancel.
Their alternative plan is to possibly do a three-day rodeo instead of a concert, whether it is a sanctioned by the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association or not (PRCA). Judy Graham chimed in and said that the PRCA has released guidelines to hold a rodeo, including limiting crowd sizes and practicing social distancing, as that was a concern about maintaining especially in the ReRide Room.
Ticket sales, would begin around the first of June, has been pushed back to July, though that could change. The headlining act wants around six-to-eight weeks to promote the concert.
The Market Sales Committee also said that they are moving forward as a normal year, though they said there could be changes down the road including the possibility of a virtual auction. One issue is that for children raising a steer decision has to be made in early June on moving forward with weigh-ins and the like.
The Sales Committee, 4-H and FFA have been looking at how to make a virtual auction happen and where it could be held. They believe it could work seamlessly, though the issue of money paid for the animals is a constant concern.
With the depressed market prices there is a concern how much money children can raise from the auction, especially if they are depending on the animal to help pay for school or other expenses. It is felt that if animals come down from the North Lake area to the auction is could depress prices even further. While animals do not come every year from North Lake, it is a matter of how many children can sell their animal before auction. With uncertainty surrounding local businesses and their financial condition and what they will be able to pay.
FFA and 4-H will be working with their clubs to determine how to sell the market animals for the best price possible.
One area that was a concern for all was trying to limit the number of people looking at animals in pens, the auction ring, or the static exhibits. There was discussion on how to possibly limit the number of people, either by family or by animals people wish to buy.
Another area of concern especially to the Fair Board was carnival contracts and trying to get food vendors to the Fair. If other fairs cancel then the carnival would more than likely cancel as well; the same with food truck vendors.
“There are a lot of challenges to make the show happen. We have to be creative to make it work,” said Winters.
As money might not be forthcoming from the State next fiscal year as it tries to plug a multi-billion dollar hole.
All groups are watching the situation and hard decisions will have to be made in July.
For more information contact Lindsay at 541-947-2925.