YORK — The pace will be a bit slower, the crowds smaller and a few standbys absent, but the York County Fair is still going the extra mile to bring traditional summer fun to the York County Fairgrounds.
“Some events have been postponed because we just can’t do them and still follow health measures,” said Tanya Crawford, 4-H Extension Educator for York and Polk Counties. “We’re trying really hard to keep all these events for these youth.”
In some ways, York County Fair 2020 will look like other county fairs around Nebraska but in other ways the York County Fair will offer more to attendees and participants. “We’re doing a lot more than other fairs,” said Brad Gloystein, York County Agricultural Society President. “A lot more” means maintaining 4-H, FFA and open class animal shows, static exhibits, fair food and a couple favorite spectator events.
Animals will be shown on species-specific days, and will have a “show-and-go” format, Crawford said. Competitors will check in their animal at a scheduled time. “We hope that they do the majority of their washing and grooming at home,” Crawford said. Just in case, some wash racks will be open, but maintaining social distancing. Judging will be done as in years past, with extra attention to social distancing. Masks are encouraged, but not required. Small animal shows will be indoors, while large livestock will be shown outdoors. Following each show, exhibitors have a limited amount of time to keep their animal on the fairgrounds. “We broke it down so there is pretty much a show a day,” Crawford said. “Shows will go a lot slower because of that.” Also, it is possible more animals will be shown than in years past. “Pre-fair entries for livestock has stayed the same or gone up,” Crawford said. “Our swine went up 39 head [to 116]. People have more time working with their animals.”
Static exhibit plans are still a work in progress, but a few details have been nailed down – for now. A limited number of people will be allowed to view the exhibits on two assigned evenings, Crawford said. “It will be very controlled.” Gloystein said open class static exhibits will be set up similarly. There are a few details being worked out yet. “We’re still working on the awards for the static exhibits,” Crawford said. Also in the works is how to recognize prize winners. “There will be some sort of awards showcase,” Crawford said. This showcase will occur in conjunction with exhibit pickup times.
Food vendors will still be available on-site, including the 4-H Food Stand fundraiser. The traditional BBQ is still set to be held, but in drive-through format.
A few of the York County Fair’s spectator events are still on the schedule, including: the Figure 8 Race, antique tractor pull and car show. Gloystein said the grandstands will be limited to 50% capacity with a limited number of tickets available. Tickets will go on sale the week of the event. Gloystein said one of the can’t-miss events at this year’s fair is the antique tractor pull. Participants have been looking forward to finally competing, as many of their events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. “It’s one of the largest antique tractor pulls in the state, and they’re ready to go,” Gloystein said.
Absent from the fair lineup is the carnival, which cancelled its appearance.
The York Agricultural Society and 4-H Council have doubled their number of meetings in recent months, trying to bring competitors and attendees as much fair as possible. “This has been based on lots of conversation,” Crawford said. She and Gloystein both said area county fair leaders have been collaborating to come up with new, safe activities for fair-goers. “Everything is a brand new set of rules,” Gloystein said. “If the directives change, we have to change.”
“This is the plan for now,” Crawford said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out, and we ask for lots of patience and grace.”
“We just want people to know we’re doing everything to be safe – we do not take this lightly at all.”
The York County Fair events are slated to begin July 14 (4-H Culinary Contest and Presentation Contest) and last through August 8. Full schedules will be available at http://www.yorkcountyfair.com/ and https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/york/ .
Volunteers are still needed to monitor buildings, guide attendees through exhibition areas and other duties; contact Crawford at the York County Extension Office if interested.