It’s official: on July 7, for the first time since WWII, the board of the State Fair of Texas voted to cancel the 2020 Fair. The cancellation comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was announced on social media.
In a statement on the Fair website, the board chair, Gina Norris, acknowledged that it was an extremely tough decision but that there was “no feasible way” for the Fair to open in a safe way. It’s certainly hard to picture the Fair without the long, snaking Ferris Wheel line, or the mustard stands positioned beside every Fletcher’s. It’s an environment built for crowds and none of it is built for social distancing.
The team reportedly came up with a series of contingency plans, but at the end of the day, did not want to risk furthering the spread of the virus.
“While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas,” Norris said. “The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season.”
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The State Fair of Texas is the longest-running fair in the nation. It’s also one of the largest, drawing millions of visitors to try the newest deep fried creation, ride the Texas Star, and take pictures in front of Big Tex. There is also a nonprofit aspect to the Fair. Since its inception, the Fair has been supporting agriculture and education programs. They have raised millions for scholarships and offered a space to promote the Future Farmers of America high school programs.
In an effort to continue to support its nonprofit mission, they are still funding their usual Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and livestock shows, Big Tex Scholarship Program, and Big Tex Urban Farms. They are also honoring their commitment to donate $2.5 million to the city of Dallas in 2020 for the upkeep of Fair Park.
“While we are heartbroken at the notion of not welcoming more than 2.5 million of our closest friends for this annual celebration of the Lone Star State, the excitement we feel in moving forward with planning the 2021 State Fair of Texas and keeping this 134-year tradition alive will keep us motivated until we can greet our fairgoers, seasonal staff, and business partners again in a safe environment,’” said Mitchell Glieber, president of the State Fair of Texas.
The State Fair organizers are still considering alternatives, such as virtual events, but have made no announcements. Anyone who ordered tickets or season passes will receive an automatic, full refund.
And if you had coupons for this year’s fair, be sure to hold on to them for the 2021. The Fair will be back Friday, September 24 through Sunday, October 17, 2021 (unless the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t work).