Shawano County Fair going ahead

Ag society votes to hold fair as scheduled in September
Tim Ryan

SHAWANO — The Shawano County Fair will go on as scheduled in September, in spite of numerous other fairs statewide — including the Wisconsin State Fair — canceling this year over COVID-19 concerns.

The Shawano Area Agricultural Society voted at a meeting Monday to go forward with the fair as planned, according to its president, Dale Hodkiewicz.

Hodkiewicz said the agricultural society did not consult with the Shawano-Menominee Counties Public Health Department about going ahead with the fair, but they previously consulted with the department on opening the Shawano Speedway.

“We talked with the health department on the races already, so we’re confident we can go forward,” Hodkiewicz said.

The health department continues to urge people to avoid large gatherings, according to its most recent public recommendations.

An estimated 68,000 attendees visited the Shawano County Fair last year.

Shawano County Agriculture and Extension Committee Chairman Joe Miller said at a meeting last week that one of the speedway drivers had tested positive for COVID-19.

Hodkiewicz confirmed that information, but he said the driver has not participated in speedway races.

“That driver has quarantined himself,” Hodkiewicz said. “He has not shown up at the racetrack. He has removed himself, so it’s not an issue. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.”

According to the Wisconsin Association of Fairs, 46 fairs and related events have been canceled for this year, as of June 12. Four others have either postponed or modified their fair seasons.

The agricultural society posted an update on its Facebook page Tuesday, saying the society is working with the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, carnival management and local officials to put procedures in place to run the fair as safely and effectively as possible.

“The 2020 fair will have a different look, as we know we will not be allowed to do Bingo for sure, and we will be highlighting our local bands on both stages at this point,” the post stated. “We will be calling our vendors and meeting with our nonprofit organizations in the upcoming weeks to get their feelings toward opening their stands for the fair.”

The post stated that safety would be the fair’s primary concern, and the fair organizers would work with all parties involved to ensure a plan to open and operate effectively and safely.

“While things obviously are changing daily, we are always monitoring the situation and will make changes accordingly if something would arise,” the post stated.

The fair is scheduled to run Sept. 2-7.