Editor's note: An updated version of this story can be found here.
Still hoping for the best, but the county fair season remains in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The concern is the early fairs in June,” said Ken Tyrrell, president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. “There are several fairs scheduled for June and I think we’re just taking a wait-and-see attitude to see if things do straighten out a little bit.”
There are 16 local events scheduled across the state for June. The Macon County fair has already been canceled.
Tyrrell also serves on the Sandwich Fair Association Board. That event isn’t until September, but he understands the predicament that early county fairs are in as the state’s current “stay-at-home” order runs through the end of May.
“In my talks with the (Illinois) Dept. of Ag, both state fairs are planning on running and I just think every other fair is going to take a wait-and-see attitude,” Tyrrell said during a recent interview with RFD Radio.
That’s what Mercer County Fair organizers are doing for their fair, scheduled for July 7-11.
“If we can be business as usual at the fair, we’re preparing to put on the fair,” said Mercer County Fair Board President Rex McWhorter. “It’s still all subject to the governor allowing us to get together as groups.”
He added organizers have until July 1 to make a final decision. The Mercer County Fair was established in 1853 and has only had to cancel twice — in 1862 because of the Civil War and in 1938 due to financial difficulties.