County fairs expected to resume this summer

The carousel at the 2017 Columbia County Fair. File photo

HUDSON — Columbia County Fair organizers are looking at local feedback for this year’s possible event.

While it is still not known if the Columbia County Fair will definitely happen this year, fair officials remain hopeful and have created an online survey asking the public for its thoughts.

“We are encouraging people to complete the survey and give us their input,” Columbia County Agricultural Society Director Betsy Braley said. ”We have received a lot of great feedback and enjoy reading everyone’s response.”

The online survey asks respondents a series of multiple and short-answer questions such as how likely they will attend the fair and about their level of concern about COVID-19 with various activities at the fair.

Braley said that as of Thursday afternoon, officials received more than 1,500 responses to the survey, which can be found online on the Columbia County Facebook page or at https://forms.gle/RL4qan23zQv3JzKr8

Braley said a large majority of the responses are positive and many people are looking forward to this year’s fair.

“The survey that’s being conducted, the responses are pretty positive, from what I’m told the people hope it can happen, we hope it can happen, only time and the regulations will tell,” Columbia County Agricultural Society President Nelson R. Alford Jr. said.

New York state has not announced what types of COVID guidelines or restrictions there will be for county fairs this year. The fair typically can host rides, food vendors, 4-H exhibits, entertainment and more, but it is not known how possible regulations would affect any of these features.

The Columbia County Fair was canceled last year due to the pandemic. It was the first time the fair was canceled going all the way back to 1840, Agricultural Society Secretary Angelo Nero said. The fair typically draws about 65,000 visitors each year.

“There’s not much to say at this point,” Alford said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to have the fair this year, but it is very much going to be determined by the regulations that have to be complied with. We do have a committee that’s working on that. Certainly, if we’re faced with a limitation of say, 30% attendance, that’s not going to work for us, that’s not going to work for any of the county fairs throughout the state.”

The Agricultural Society is working in cooperation with state and county health and safety officials on plans for this year’s fair, according to the fair website.

Fair officials have been keeping in touch with the State Fair Boards Association, Alford said, but it is not clear when they will hear about protocols for this year’s fair.

Braley said they hope to get more information in the coming weeks.

“There’s going to come a point in time, probably by early July, that a decision will have to be made, a hard decision one way or the other,” Alford said. “As the vaccinations continue to be administered, hopefully things will start to subside.”

The Columbia County Fair is scheduled to run Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 6, through the Labor Day weekend. Alford said it is fortunate the fair is not until September, because that allows more time for planning than other fairs in the state, which start earlier in the year.

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