DARLINGTON — While nearly every neighboring county has canceled its 2020 fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lafayette County is determined to give something to its patrons and exhibitors.
At their June 9 meeting, the Lafayette County Fair Committee decided to move forward with the 2020 Lafayette County Fair, which is to be held July 15 to 19. However, Fair Manager Kari Ruf said a meeting Monday, June 15 would finalize decisions.
The meeting lasted just under two hours and discussed alternate plans and passionate appeals to cancel because of COVID-19. The committee debated running the livestock auction differently, as well as limiting numbers in the grandstands and possibly eliminating a day of the fair, amongst other ideas.
“We go ahead with the fair, one pig per child and revisit on Monday, June 15 to work things out in further detail,” the approved motion stated. The motion passed 4-1 with Chairman Eric Stauffacher voting no because “it would mean opening the livestock auction to a non-terminal show.”
The fair committee announced the decision on the morning of June 10, with the Lafayette County Livestock Committee discussing later that evening social distancing guidelines and recommendations on how to handle the livestock portion of the fair.
A meeting June 15 will discuss insurance liability and legal aspects of holding the fair.
In the southwest corner of the state, only Lafayette County and Iowa County directly to the north are still planning on holding summer fairs this year. Green, Grant, Crawford, Dane, Rock and Sauk Counties in Wisconsin have all canceled their summer fairs, along with Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Carroll, Ogle and Winnebago Counties in Illinois. In northwest Iowa, only Clayton County has canceled its fair, with Allamakee, Dubuque and Jackson still planning on continuing festivities.
The Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota state fairs have all been canceled, with the Illinois fair “unlikely to happen,” according to governor J.B. Pritzker.
“There are still about 35 counties in the state planning on holding their fair this year, but we are one of the few in June or July,” Ruf said of Wisconsin. Richland County has yet to make a decision, but its fair will not be held until Sept. 9-13.
Ruf said “for the most part, everyone is on board” for the Lafayette fair, which includes the carnival and food vendors, and that the fair committee is expecting a higher turnout because of so many area cancelations.
One of the scheduled events in flux is the July 18 tractor pull. The Badger State Tractor Pullers, which was to hold the event at the fairgrounds, canceled its 2020 season June 3. Ruf said there is still hope for some tractor pulling action.
“We are hopeful that some of the area tractor pullers will be able to still hold something,” Ruf said.
— Brian Lund contributed to this story.