Washington Area Chamber of Commerce and Fair officials announced Friday that the Washington Town & Country Fair has been canceled.
The Fair was scheduled to take place Wednesday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 9, at the city fairgrounds.
Jennifer Giesike, Chamber president/CEO and Fair manager; Dan Cassette, Chamber board chair; and Jon Ballmann, Fair chairman, released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“Since last August, our team has been excitedly working on the vision for the 2020 Washington Town & Country Fair. We continued brainstorming while our community, state and world adapted to new challenges brought on by COVID-19.
“We have done our very best in difficult times, but with so many uncertainties remaining, we must sadly announce that there will be no 2020 Washington Town & Country Fair.
“The Fair’s mission statement includes the phrase ‘to provide quality entertainment, exhibits, and education in a family-oriented environment, while providing funds for local organizations and the Chamber of Commerce for community growth and improvement.’ Those objectives, both fun and funds, have no guarantee in our current reality.
“We’ve been fortunate to have 90 years of fair fun, and the importance of having the Washington Town & Country Fair for many years to come is a huge factor in our decision. The Chamber and Fair boards have an obligation to ensure the long-term viability of the Fair — for the sake of the Chamber, for the sake of every organization that raises funds through the Fair, and for the sake of future Washingtonians who will raise livestock, sing along at a concert, ride the Ferris wheel, and cover their ears at a tractor pull.
“Today, we’re thinking with our heads, though it breaks our hearts.
“The reality is that the Fair we’re all picturing is not a Fair that would have been feasible this year. Social distancing and fairs simply do not go together. Our sponsors, volunteers, exhibitors and fairgoers deserve better, and we refuse to provide a mediocre event for a community that has always given us extraordinary support.
“Thank you for remaining faithful Fair fans, even in times of adversity. Now, more than ever, your support encourages us. We will press on, looking forward to Aug. 4-8, 2021, when we will be especially grateful to open the gates for the 91st Washington Town & Country Fair. Until then — stay safe, stay healthy, and stay #FairStrong!”
The Chamber and Fair also have released some frequently asked questions and their responses in regard to the Fair. They are as follows:
• Did you consider modifying the Fair (limiting attendance, distance guidelines, masks, temp checks, postponing to later dates)?
“Unfortunately, we can’t be certain what recommendations will look like in August. For 90 years, our Fair has built a reputation of providing top-notch entertainment, and we didn’t want to provide an experience that didn’t live up to our fairgoers’ expectations.”
• Will I still be able to show my livestock?
“We are looking into options to still have a show and auction. Exactly what the show/auction look like remains to be seen. We are considering virtual options, among other things. If you tagged an animal, you will be contacted with details. For exhibitors who already completed online registration and payment, refunds will be processed if no show is able to be held.”
• What if I already bought my tickets?
“All tickets purchased online through the Fair’s ticketing partner (e-tix), will be automatically refunded to the card that was used for purchase. The refund should be credited to your account by June 22.
“Fairgoers who purchased a certificate for tickets at the Chamber office or purchased/won a certificate at a charity event will be able to redeem the certificate for the 2021 Fair. Certificates may be redeemed beginning June 25, 2021, at the Chamber Office.”
• Will there still be a Fair parade?
“At this time there are no plans for a parade. Participants who already registered for the parade will have entry fees returned.”
• Will there still be a Fair run-walk?
“We are exploring options to safely hold a run-walk. Details will be published at www.washmofair.com as soon as they are available.”
• Are Chamber events and activities still proceeding as planned?
“Chamber events are still happening, though some adaptations are being made. These events are on a much smaller scale than the Fair, and can be held while observing social distancing guidelines.”
The Chamber reminds residents that the Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Vendors are spaced in every-other parking space under the market pavilion at 317 W. Main St. and in the adjacent Main and Elm parking lot.
Music at the Market events are planned on the following Thursdays: June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8.
Drink stands and picnic tables are being spread into Main Street and the Main and Elm parking lot to provide space for attendees to observe social distancing.
The Chamber’s annual golf tourney is scheduled for Friday, June 12, following all recommendations in place at Wolf Hollow Golf Club.
The Cajun Festival will be held Friday, June 26, at the Farmers’ Market. Picnic tables will again be spread out to provide space for attendees to observe social distancing.
Officials said the Chamber still operating as usual. They said the Chamber exists to strengthen the local economic climate, support its member businesses and enhance the region’s quality of life.
“We still have events, member outreach and community promotion, despite the fair being canceled,” said Giesike. “To remain responsible with finances in a year with reduced revenue, the Chamber office hours have been reduced to Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.”