MC Fair 5 CPT 072019

Christopher Tomlinson/The Daily Sentinel

One of the competitors waits for the big event during the 2019 Mesa County Fair. Officials in Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Garfield counties have decided to cancel many events that are meant entirely for the public, but semi-private ones such as youth competitions will be allowed to take place. Such plans have not yet become official.

The show must go on, but not for everyone.

That, at least, is the attitude of officials in all four area counties when it come to their annual county fairs this summer. While most events will be canceled — mostly those meant entirely for the public — events for 4H and Future Farmers of America youth are expected to go on in the four counties: Delta, Mesa, Montrose and Garfield.

In Mesa County, fair officials met with county commissioners Wednesday to discuss how the July 14-18 event could take place while the state continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those discussions, which aren’t yet official, call for canceling virtually all public events, but allowing semi-private ones to take place, such as youth competitions.

“We’re going to go ahead and reach out to people who had booked with us — the carnival, the grandstand events — and let them know that the Mesa County Fair for the public will not be held in 2020,” Mesa County Facilities Director Greg Linza told the commissioners. “We will move forward with 4H (and FFA) in terms of trying to help them as much as we can in doing the livestock shows.”

Linza said that while details of the livestock sales are still being worked out, it likely would be some sort of hybrid with in-person and virtual participation.

He and Fair Manager Kyle Carstens did get approval from Mesa County Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr that most of the fairground’s June events, various horse shows and BMX track, can go on because they generally attract fewer than 50 people, the current limit for large gatherings under the health department’s coronavirus guidelines.

Delta County, too, is considering doing the same thing for its Aug. 1-8 fair, but that decision won’t be made formally until next week when fair officials there meet with commissioners, said County Administrator Robbie LeValley.

“What we’ve laid out is something that’s very similar, that we would continue with the youth activities,” she said. “We will put our best management practices in place regarding sanitizing, distancing, all of the requirements to reduce exposure. What is being discussed now is we would not have the public events.”

The county does plan to hold a live animal auction, but also will offer that virtually for those who don’t want to be around others, she said.

Earlier this week, the Garfield County Fair Board announced that it is canceling all grandstand events for its July 27-Aug. 2 fair, and will hold its 4H and FFA Junior Livestock Show and Sale remotely.

Canceled events include its rodeo, demolition derby, monster truck rally and carnival.

The board, however, still is evaluating the possibility of holding smaller events, such as class displays for such things as arts and crafts, photography and gardening.

Montrose County, meanwhile, is still holding out hope to hold its livestock sale live, but hasn’t yet decided that issue.

All other public events have been canceled, but fair officials still hope that might change as its July 20-25 event nears.

“The open portion of our show, which is more the community part, we’ve canceled the free entertainment,” said Emily Sanchez, director of the Montrose County Fairgrounds & Event Center. “So that’s the magicians, the bands, and the contests. We are still holding on to a little bit of hope that maybe we can make the rodeo work, and so we have not canceled that. The majority of our focus is on those 4H and FFA kids and getting their animals shown and sold.”

All the counties said that last-minute alterations could be made, but only as public health conditions allow.

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