JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Fair will look different this year, with only three days worth of Junior Fair activities.

The modified event will still take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the previously scheduled fair week of Aug. 11-16, said Fair Board President Brian Edelman.

“We will meet with health commissioner to discuss our plans this week,” he said.”We hope to have some plans in place by the end of the week.”

The Senior Fair component has been canceled, excluding the harness racing. 

“After careful consideration and lengthy discussions, the board voted to proceed with only a modified Junior Livestock Exhibition and Junior project events,” he said. “Due to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, we are unable to have a Senior Fair [rides, grandstand events, side shows, carnival games and other Senior Fair events.]”

Board members said by doing it this way, they can make the 2021 fair even better. It will be the 175th annual fair.

“This decision came was reached after [Ohio] Gov. Mike DeWine released guidelines relating to county fairs,” Edelman said. “Those guidelines support 4-H and Future Farmers of America’s projects.”

The public will not be allowed to watch the judging or harness racing, unless guidelines change before early August, he said.

Each county fair will receive $50,000 in state money if they conduct a junior fair. If counties do not conduct a junior fair this year, they can receive $15,000 to be used next year.

Edelman said he met with county commissioners earlier two weeks ago to discuss ways to raise the $40,000 needed to hold a Junior Fair event, with an additional estimated $25,000 to make necessary public-health improvements to the grounds in light of COVID-19.

“Typically, the Fair Board receives around $102,000 in small business sponsorships,” Edelman said. “With these small businesses having difficulties during COVID-19, the Fair Board did not want to approach them for money.”

Another financial factor was the grandstands only being allowed a 50-percent capacity under the health guidelines, he said.

“We now have enough money to hold a junior fair for all the junior livestock animals and all the junior-fair [projects],” Edelman said. “It’s great news.”

Ashtabula County Commissioner Casey Kozlowski said commissioners support the Fair Board’s decision.

Details, including whether concessions will still be at the Junior Fair and what other Junior Fair activities, such as Royal Court, will still take place, are yet to be worked out.

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