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The County Fair– "To be or not to be–That is the Question"

POMEROY–The Garfield County Fair Board made the decision to move forward with the 2020 Fair in September at the June 16 meeting which will need approval by the county commissioners. The caveat to the future of the event will be determined by what COVID-19 restrictions are in place as the date nears. In surrounding counties, fairs including the Palouse Empire Fair in Whitman County have canceled because of COVID-19 and re-opening restrictions.

Garfield County Commissioner Justin Dixon said the local health department have a set of guidelines from the state but at the end of the day it’s up to the elected officials. He stated it is the intent of the commissioners to move forward with the fair, with potential modifications and recommendations by the health department discussed as they come up. Randall said the state has provided COVID-19 supplies and there may be money available for the purchase of virus-related items such as hand-washing stations.

Dixon told the Board that the wording of “closed fair”, which was discussed at an earlier meeting, had caused some concerns about who would or would not be eligible to exhibit at the fair, and they did not want to discourage people from participating.

Lisbeth Randall suggested “closed” should be removed from the wording and decisions about exhibitors be left to the discretion of the superintendents. It was approved by the board to allow the decision about outside entries left to the discretion of the fair superintendents. She also said the premium books are out and tickets will be picked up this week. Family passes were limited to five people, but it was decided to change the limit to two adults and up to four children. The intent is to limit the number of people who can be claimed on a family pass.

County agent Mark Heitstuman clarified that outside exhibitors would have to be entered in open classes and are not eligible for premium money but can win ribbons. Allocation of barn space for non-resident entries was also brought up.

The commissioners approved a reduced fee for the Mounted Shooters to practice at our arena facilities. The shooters are still planning on staging a free “how-to” clinic during the fair. Randall said a superintendent is still needed for the Cereals Department this year but the other superintendent positions have been filled. Heitstuman has lined up judges for the Swine and Beef Departments and will be working with Hayden to find a judge for the Sheep and Goats.

Lunsford updated the group regarding this year’s entertainment and said she has already booked the popular Smiles the Clown. Aaron Stallcop said the 4-H is planning to do their usual movie night, with the showing still set for dusk on Friday night. He suggested signage may need to be posted for social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions. Persons not observing the safety measures may be asked to leave. Lunsford presented an idea for holding an ATV and motorcycle rodeo event as Saturday night entertainment. There were no objections so she will move forward with plans for this event.

Vonnie Mulrony, representing the Pony Punchers, also expressed concerns regarding the impact of a closed fair policy on the rodeo. “If we limit people to Garfield County, we’re probably not going to have a rodeo,” she said.

David Ruark, Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum (EWAM), said the windmill was completed except for a few small items before the virus hit, a 1918 Huber wood tractor was recently donated and the museum has already had a few visitors since reopening this month. Ruark stated EWAM will hold a meeting on Sunday evening, the first in several months due to COVID-19.

Shaniece Korrell is the new groundkeeper for the fairgrounds. She can be reached through her county email account.

The next Fair Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at 7 p.m. in the Dick Brown Community Building at the fairgrounds. Zoom teleconferencing will still be offered for those who cannot attend in person.

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