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Pictured is Insomniac in the winners’ circle at the Pike County Fair on Friday, July 26, 2019. Insomniac broke a track record in trotting at the 2019 fair in the fifth race with a time of 1:59.4.

A modified and limited Pike County Fair begins this weekend at the fairgrounds in Piketon.

The Pike County Fair Board had been working with the Pike County General Health District to hold a full fair with some modifications for safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however those plans changed after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made an announcement concerning fairs earlier this week.

DeWine announced on Tuesday that county and independent fairs with an opening day on or after July 31, 2020, will be limited to specific junior fair events. The Pike County General Health District posted on Tuesday that the safety plan they had been working on for the fair prior to Tuesday was in compliance with each of the governor’s required guidelines released in June.

“We’ve seen several fairs that have been doing an excellent job to keep fair-goers safe, yet other fairs have been connected to outbreaks; some have disregarded social distancing; and we’ve also seen a lack of enforcement of the statewide mask order. It’s just a real shame,” said Governor DeWine. “Because it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot have a regular, safe fair in the summer of 2020, I believe we must now scale fairs back.”

“Junior fair activities such as livestock competitions and 4-H and Future Farmers of America competitions for kids and teenagers may continue as planned, but junior fairs must develop a plan that reduces crowding in barns, such as limiting entrance to only the immediate family of those actively showing their animals or projects,” according to information from the governor’s office. “A 10 p.m. curfew will also be instituted for the barns, buildings, and midways. Harness racing can proceed with no spectators, but rides, games, and grandstand events will be prohibited to limit crowds and better prevent coronavirus spread.”

The Pike County Fairgrounds Facebook Page posted about the new restrictions this week: “When we decided to go full fair it was not without reservation by some but we pushed forward. Not with disregard or lack of seriousness towards COVID and the health of our county but with the hopes of providing all families a fun summer event. At times like this you find out how fortunate you are to live in a community of people and officials who will work for the betterment of our youth.

“With that said, today’s announcement from the Governor just three days before opening day stunned our momentum. What we can tell you is this, all Sr. fair events have been cancelled for the 2020 Fair. All Jr. Fair events are on as scheduled. Our local vendors with whom become fair family will be on site with some of our favorite fair foods; camping is on with our 4-H families and friends. Fair Board Director’s have called a special meeting on Thursday (July 30) to meet with OSU Extension and county officials to iron out the small details and roll out our plan for Fair Week. We have a lot of ideas which we hope will make this Fair one to remember.”

Check out the next three editions of the News Watchman for photos from the 2020 Pike County Junior Fair.

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