Fair to Middling: Payne County Fair goes on with limited events

The Payne County Free Fair begins Aug. 24, with the check-in of 4-H exhibits. The Fair will be held this year without food or other vendors as shown in this photo from 2017. There won't be a carnival or many of the activities like the Barnyard Olympics that draw the public to the Payne County Expo Center for the annual event. Michelle Charles/Stillwater News Press

The Payne County Free Fair is stripping back to the very basics for 2020, without many of the events that the general public looks forward to. There will not be a carnival nor vendors, nor food and craft competitions at this year’s county fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Payne County Commissioners were given an update on the fair during their meeting Thursday.

Carnival rides and events like the Barnyard Olympics, Pet Parade, Antique Tractor Parade and Children’s Barnyard have been canceled.

The Fairest of the Fair pageant was also canceled in June by organizer Wendy Johnson, who said she plans to bring it back next year.

“In my heart of hearts, I cannot justify putting any young lady’s health at risk,” Johnson announced on Facebook on June 19. “This does not mean that we are leaving the pageant, just that we are siding on the side of caution this year.”

Expo Center Director Colin Campbell told the Commission that because safety is the Fair Board’s top concern, it had met last week and decided to limit this year’s free fair to livestock exhibits and indoor 4-H entries.

“People will come in and show, then go,” Campbell said.

There will not be a rabbit show this year due to a U.S. outbreak of rabbit hemorrhagic disease, an ebola-like disease. The virus affects wild and domestic rabbits but does not impact human health, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Fair begins on August 24, when 4-H exhibitors drop off their indoor entries.

Show schedule:

Swine and Sheep – Aug. 25

Dairy and Goats – Aug. 26

Beef – Aug. 27

Horses – Aug. 29

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