The Ohio Expositions Commission announced that the 2021 Ohio State Fair will not be open to the public, and will instead focus on agricultural and educational competitions for exhibitors, their families, and guests. This will include junior fair skillathons, the Outstanding Market Exhibitor programs and a modified Sale of Champions. The status of the open shows for livestock will be determined by leaders within the individual species.
When discussing plans for the 2021 Ohio State Fair, members of the Commission expressed concern for public health, as well as the financial impact of hosting a fair that would adhere to current safety protocols and the lasting impacts of the long-term viability of the Ohio State Fair.
“Although vaccination rates are improving significantly each day, Ohio continues to fight the battle against COVID-19. Where we are today in this battle makes it challenging to plan a large-scale entertainment event, not knowing where we will be, or what Ohio will look like, in late July,” said Virgil Strickler, General Manager. “In addition, the important safety protocols that have been put in place to protect Ohioans, like indoor seating capacities, may lead to attendance that is considerably lower than previous years. The financial ramifications of hosting a typical Ohio State Fair with the same overhead costs, but far less revenue, could be devastating to our organization. In a typical year, the Ohio State Fair’s budget is designed to break even, with a nominal profit, if any. Hosting a full fair this year would likely lead to significant financial loss.”
Many of the typical things associated with the Ohio State Fair — rides, concerts, entertainers, live music, food vendors, and shopping — are expected to return in 2022. The 2021 Ohio State Fair will be limited to exhibitors and family members for youth and senior livestock competitions, along with educational project judging for non-livestock competitions, such as 4-H.
“I wish we had a crystal ball, but we don’t,” Strickler said. “As such, the safest decision is to greatly limit the traditional aspects of the Ohio State Fair, sticking to our roots in agriculture. While this is a difficult decision, we feel it is the best path to protect the long-term viability of the Ohio State Fair, as well as the safety of those involved by limiting the scope significantly.”
Detailed plans for the livestock and educational competitions are forthcoming. At this time, staff anticipates that the livestock shows will begin on July 19 and will conclude on August 8. The deadline for exhibitors to enter livestock competitions will be June 20, 2021. The 2022 Ohio State Fair is slated for July 27 – August 7.