Ag Society announces fair plans, pending COVID developments

Questions have been circulating regarding the status and ultimate fate of many favorite spring and summer events in Nebraska and countrywide.

In order to help address questions that members of the Hamilton County community may have, the Hamilton County Agricultural Society has released a COVID-19 response plan as of April 16.
“Due to the community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within the boundaries of Hamilton County, and following the directed health measures (DHM) by the Central District Health Department (CDHD), the Hamilton County Agricultural Society is taking these precautions to prevent the community spread of COVID-19 at and through activities at the fairgrounds,” the release reads. Said steps are listed verbatim below:
1. All buildings, including restrooms and livestock barns are closed until further notice.
2. All building rentals are suspended until further notice. Those that have rentals may choose to reschedule at a later date or cancel their rental with no loss of deposit.
3. The fairgrounds are open for public use in accordance with the gathering limits set by the governor and Central District Health Department.
4. All buildings on the grounds will be professionally disinfected prior to re-opening of those buildings.
5. Signs posted at entrances direct the public of restrictions and gathering limits.
The Hamilton County Fair is still scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 2.
“The Hamilton County Ag Society works hard all year in order to give our community the best fair we possibly can,” said Ag Society President Trevor Emahizer. “We have been working on this fair since September of last year and are continuing to work with the mindset that our fair will be business as usual come July. A large portion of our guidance is coming from the state government as well as from fairs throughout the state. We are hoping to have a definitive go/no go decision by June 1.”
The Ag Society has provided a four-level hazard scale in which specific options for the fair have been explained. They are listed verbatim below:
Level 1 -- Fair and all events go on as planned. Gathering limits no longer in effect. Community spread of virus minimal or stopped, no directive from governor or CDHD on DHM. All building/exhibits open and unrestricted. Carnival/midway open as usual. Additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizing stations located throughout grounds. Buildings/restrooms sanitized each night.
Level 2 -- Fair and limited events, no grandstand events. Gathering limits no longer in effect or expanded to 50+. Community spread of virus still taking place but cases not increasing. Additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizing stations located throughout grounds. Buildings/restrooms sanitized each night. Limit on number of people in each building at one time. Carnival/midway open, with mindset toward social distancing. Limited grounds entertainment, with gathering points set for social distancing.
Level 3 -- 4-H/FFA, Open Class exhibits only. Gathering limits of 50 or less. Community spread of virus low threat. Directives issued by Nebraska FFA and University of Nebraska Extension. No carnival/midway, grounds entertainment or grandstand events. Open Class and static 4-H/FFA exhibits in buildings only. Livestock exhibits allowed. Modified check in and rotation schedule to prevent overcrowding of barns. Judging of static exhibits as usual, judges allowed in buildings in accordance with gathering limits. Judging of livestock- only exhibitor, judge(s) and helper(s) allowed in show arena. Judging will be broadcast live via internet. Livestock auction- no in person auction. Virtual auction only.
Level 4 -- Fair cancelation. Gathering limits of 10 in place. Community spread of virus high threat.
“As you may or may not know, the Hamilton County fair is the longest continuous running fair in the state of Nebraska,” Emahizer noted. “The first fair was held in October of 1872 and even through the grasshopper years of 1873-76, the residents of Hamilton County joined together to give thanks for one another and for the blessings of that year.
“We plan to do the same,” he continued. “The great plains can be a harsh place to live and work, but the pioneer tenacity that helped settle this land still lives on in those that call Hamilton County home, and we will weather this storm like our forebearers weathered the difficulties of the past!”

 

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