Cancelled State and County Fairs

As state fair time draws closer, more states (and counties) are cancelling their fairs due to coronavirus concerns. This article mentions what some of the state fairs have reported:

The Indiana State Fair has announced “a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock Show with additional activities that will be held on the State Fairgrounds in August.” As of now, the Missouri State Fair will still be held, but “the fair will look differently than previous years. The mission of our fair has always been to showcase Missouri agriculture, so our livestock shows will continue to honor that tradition. Details for our vendors, sponsors, and other partners are still being determined.”

Gary Slater, Iowa State Fair manager, said, “Amid the pandemic, we couldn’t, in good conscience, put on the fair when we knew access to emergency safety services at the fair could be limited, public transportation to and from the fair would not be possible, the constant sanitization of a seemingly infinite amount of high touch surfaces lacked feasibility and social distancing in lines to get your favorite fair food or walking the Grand Concourse would be difficult.”


The 38th Annual Iowa State Fair Governor’s Charity Steer Show (GCSS) is still scheduled for August 15, 2020. Tanner Lawton, co-chair of the GCSS, said, “We’ve known for the past few weeks that the show and auction probably wouldn’t be the same as it has been in years past, but our priority is making sure that we have a successful fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Iowa.” Each of the steers has been raised by an Iowa youth involved in the cattle industry.

A man who grew up in Wisconsin, but now lives in Iowa, is on a committee that is organizing the Wisconsin Livestock Expo, which will be held in place of the Wisconsin State Fair. It will have similar rules and entry guidelines as the state fair, except it will be for older kids, who might not have many more chances to show at future state fairs. The committee is still looking for venues for the expo and for volunteers through their Facebook page. 

North Carolina 4-H shows moved to a virtual format—a recent NC State graduate used Google apps, TikTok, and the Zoom conferencing platform to hold the show and educational events. For the virtual livestock shows, they held both the showmanship and the market portions. For the equine judging contest, a virtual awards ceremony was held to announce and celebrate the winners. Around a dozen states have since reached out to NC State Extension on ways to develop online livestock shows and equine judging contests.

There are a lot of unknowns in the world currently, and 4-H helps kids prepare for the unknown by building skills like collaboration, problem solving, goal setting, and record keeping, to name a few. I was fortunate to have been a 4-H member for nine years and show at county fairs and the state fair. Every exhibitor puts in a great deal of work to have static or livestock projects ready to go for county and state fairs. Leading up to and during fair week, there are even longer hours put into getting your animals ready for classes, but receiving a ribbon or banner and knowing you’ve learned important life skills makes it all worth it. As soon as fair is done, it’s common for 4-H’ers to start preparing for next year’s fair. With the fairs cancelling, I hope that static projects can be judged and livestock shows are still able to be held in some format, while exhibitors practice health and safety guidelines.

Written by Dylana

Help Support CAST

Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.