Board of Health votes to cancel the Genesee County Fair

GENESEE TWP. — The fate of the 2020 Genesee County Fair is now in limbo, following a recent decision by the Genesee County Board of Health to cancel the event.

Last Thursday, the county board of health voted to cancel the Genesee County Fair, which was scheduled for Aug. 24-30 at the E.A. Cummings Center in Genesee Township. The decision was made as part of a COVID-19 emergency order and was in accordance with the state’s current ban on outdoor gatherings that number more than 100 people.

Despite the board of health’s decision, Genesee County Fair organizers have said that they still intend to move forward with the fair unless they receive a direct order to cancel from the Genesee County Health Department and Genesee County Health Officer John McKellar.

“Pertaining to recent news regarding the Genesee County Board of Health’s intent on canceling the Genesee County Fair through an emergency COVID-19 order, the Genesee County Agricultural Society has not received any official correspondence from the Board of Health, John McKellar, or the Genesee County Board of Commissioners,” organizers said in an official statement. “The Agricultural Society is not at liberty to speculate as to the specific details for which the Board of Health’s decision was derived.

“There being no formal correspondence, the Genesee County Agricultural Society is proceeding with plans for this year’s Genesee County Fair.”

Chris Miller, a Board of Directors member with the Genesee County Agricultural Society, said that he and other fair organizers submitted a Safe Launch plan to the Genesee County Board of Commissioners in mid-June. The plan included a proposal to reduce the number of people coming in and the number of tickets sold, while following recommended sanitization and social distancing guidelines.

“Since the fair itself is held predominantly outside, we thought that alternate plans would be workable,” Miller said. “We’re thinking of many ways to keep fairgoers safe.”

Miller said that he was somewhat perplexed that the board of health’s emergency action came without direct correspondence from the health department. He said that unless fair organizers receive an official order of cancelation from John McKellar and/ or the health department, the Genesee County Fair will go on as planned with livestock showings, grandstand events and carnival rides.

McKellar did not respond to our request to comment on the board of health’s decision regarding the Genesee County Fair.

The Genesee County Fair, which has been operating for 171 years, is the single longest-running event in Genesee County. The fair brings in millions of dollars in revenue for the county and features a wide variety of carnival activities, concerts and 4-H livestock and agricultural competitions for youth and adults.