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Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the important need to slow this spread, this week Purdue University and Purdue Extension announced the decision to extend the existing ban on face-to-face events through June 30, 2020.

As a result, there are 18 county fairs that will be affected by this new order, including ones in Floyd, Scott, Harrison, and Washington Counties. 

According to Megan Broughton, Extension Educator 4-H Youth Development, 4-H officials will meet with county officials on Monday to discuss options. 

She said there are currently three options to be discussed.

  1. Reschedule the fair for another date in July.
    1. Broughton said Purdue hasn’t made a decision for July events. They will determine those by May 15. 
  2. Hold a Virtual “Fair” 
    1. “This would be for everything,” said Broughton. “It would be for all projects.”
  3. Plan for the fair to be in September. 
    1. “They are still planning on having the State Fair in August and they want us to plan around that,” said Broughton. 

“Obviously we want to try for face to face, but we’re going to have to have a backup plan,” said Broughton. 

Broughton said 4-Hers could still show their animals at the state fair. “There are no qualifications. Any 4-Her can show their animals. We would try to figure out something to take other projects to the state fair.”

The Queen and Teen Pageants are events sponsored by the Washington County Fair Board, as well as grandstand events, the carnival, food vendors and commercial exhibits. 

“I’ve invited Cheryl Lee, the fair board president, to the meeting on Monday,” said Broughton. “Ultimately, we want to do this with the fair board. Ultimately, if they decide to do the fair in June, it would be a fair without the 4-H part. And we would have to do that later. It might have to be two separate events or we might be able to work together to do something at a later time.”

Harrison County holds two different fairs – one as a county fair and one labeled as a 4-H fair. 

Washington County’s fair has always been labeled as a “Farmers and Merchants” fair. 

The Fair Board released information last week that they were still planning on having the fair in June but would update that information on May 15. That was released prior to Purdue’s most recent declaration. 

Lee said last week that the local fair is still being planned as scheduled for June 13-20 with a kick-off parade on June 7th. 

This year’s theme is Basketball – The State That Grew The Game, which mirrors the Indiana State Fair theme.

The board met last week to discuss the plans for the 2020 Fair.

“We have made the decision to proceed as planned at this time. We will re-evaluate on May 17th,” according to Lee. 

Currently, the State of Indiana is on a Stay-at-Home order through the first of May. This could be extended depending on the number of active cases and tests being administered for the COVID-19 virus. 

At this time, Gov. Eric Holcomb has asked that no groups gather with more than 10 people.

Lee asked those who are planning to have a food booth or commercial booth, to reserve your spot and plan as normal.

You can email Tim Anderson for details and for a form at [email protected]

Anderson said in an email earlier this year that 

“Any monies sent to reserve spots between now and May 17th will be held and returned if we cannot have the fair,” Lee said. “Stay safe and healthy and we hope to see you in June.”

During an outbreak such as COVID-1, the CDC recommends canceling large meetings and events.

The state 4-H staff in collaboration with county 4-H educators are exploring alternative delivery of 4-H programming for the month of June.

As a reminder, all deadlines (animal ID, project drop/add, etc.) that were previously due by May 15 are now due June 1. Fair Entry will also wait to open until after the June 1 deadline.

For the health and well-being of 4-H families, volunteers, and professionals all in-person 4-H events, camps, activities, and experiences that were scheduled to take place before July 1, 2020, will be postponed or converted to non-face-to-face experiences. This includes in-person events and activities led by local 4-H volunteers.

Virtual 4-H programming will be created and offered at no cost to families to replace the following statewide face-to-face 4-H events that were scheduled to take place in June of 2020:

  • 4-H Academy @ Purdue
  • Indiana 4-H Round-Up
  • State 4-H Junior Leader Conference
  • State 4-H Band and State 4-H Chorus

4-H Youth Development Extension educators and state specialists will continue their incredible efforts to create and adapt learning opportunities to meet 4-H families where they are and fit the social distancing guidelines that we must abide by.

Visit purdue.ag/4hhomeactivities for a collection of at-home activities for kids created by Purdue Extension and 4-H programs across the nation.

Here are a few highlights:

  • World Changers Online Hackathon April 20-22
  • Animal Science Web Series every Tuesday since March 31st (recordings available)
  • Live, Virtual Cake Decorating Workshop April 16 at 7:00 p.m. EDT

Likewise, if your county fair falls within the dates affected by this decision your local Purdue Extension office will be in touch with you regarding alternate plans for your 4-H fair or the 4-H events at your county’s fair.

Please know county Extension educators are working in partnership with local fair boards and the state 4-H office to provide alternate opportunities for youth to showcase and celebrate their 4-H achievements.

Please exercise patience and give your local Extension office the time they need to communicate the plans to you.

Officials did not take this decision lightly. The health and well-being of 4-H’ers, families, volunteers, employees, and communities is their top priority.

4-H Youth Development will continue to provide opportunities for youth to learn, grow, develop skills, and showcase and celebrate their achievements.

Officials will try new things and relate to each other in innovative ways.

They will harness the resilience and determination 4-H has taught us, and they stand in awe of the individuals and communities 4-H has built.