The Sauk County Agricultural Society has canceled the 2020 Sauk County Fair that had been scheduled for July 6-12 at the fairgrounds in Baraboo.
In a press release, the society said it consulted with the city of Baraboo emergency management before making the decision. It cited the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the cancellation.
“The need to socially distance, is quite possibly the exact opposite of the purpose of the fair,” said board president Scott Zirzow.
The society also considered the economic effects of the pandemic.
“Many of our sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers and community members are experiencing financial hardship due to the current situation. We felt as a board it was unfair for us to ask for more during this time to sponsor and participate in this event,” Zirzow said.
He said the Society is in good shape financially, but recognized there was some risk of going forward with a fair and then having to cancel at a closer date.
Zirzow, who lives across the street from the fairgrounds, said he has been part of the fair since he was 14 and he is now in his mid-50s.
“It’s going to be a tough week,” Zirzow said, referring to how quiet the fairgrounds will be in early July.
Fair Secretary Liz Cook said the society board spent the past week or so contacting vendors and sponsors as well as participating organizations. Cook said there were about 415 junior exhibitors and another 120 open class and senior living facility exhibitors in 2019.
Cook said junior exhibitors are encouraged to work on their projects and entries year-round, so the cancellation was difficult. She said if she could call each of them she would.
“It weighs heavy on all of our hearts,” Cook said of the decision. “It’s a close-knit community.”
But Cook offered some hope there could be a virtual fair with judging and maybe even a meat animal sale being conducted online. The board is working with the University of Wisconsin Extension which has offered some guidance for conducting virtual fairs and Cook said she has been in contact with judges as well.
“I’m very hopeful it’s something we could do,” Cook said. She expects to know for certain by early June.
The 2021 Sauk County Fair is scheduled for July 12 to 18.
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