MOUNT VERNON — Even as other counties are canceling their county fairs, the Knox County Fair Board is trying to figure out how they can still put on a fair this summer.

Showmanship, rides, king and queen contest out

It is already shaping up to be a smaller event; animal exhibits and shows will be limited, the king and queen contest is out, and there won’t be any rides and games.

“The county commissioners want us to have a fair; (Knox Public Health Commissioner) Julie Miller wants us to have a fair,” Dustin Beheler, Knox County Board president said at their meeting Wednesday, adding that they, as a board, also want to have the fair. “People are going to want something relatively normal in a few months.”

The board is still trying to figure out how things will work at this year’s fair, mostly in part due to the guidelines put out by Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health last week. The guidelines cover everything from junior fair animal exhibits to auctions, campgrounds, amusement rides, campgrounds and food concessions. The overall guidance keeps in line with social distancing guidelines like maintaining six feet apart, wearing face masks and keeping communal areas sanitized. Any decisions made and any operational guidelines must be approved by the county health department.

Beheler said he has been in touch with Miller about how they can have the fair.

“I’ve talked to Julie Miller today. Obviously, they have been on the bandwagon from day one to have a junior fair,” Beheler said, adding that the overall fair still needs to be figured out. “Her words were do whatever we can to come up with a plan to have a fair. The county needs it, people need it.”

The board made several decisions at their meeting to help follow guidelines. Most of the guidelines dealt with the junior fair and their animal exhibits but one decision included deciding not to have amusement rides and games at the fair. The board is also working on figuring out entertainment and spacing out seating for the entertainment. Vendors will have to be spaced far enough apart to maintain social distancing and the merchant building will have limited spots as well.

On the junior fair side of things, Samantha Beheler, Knox County Junior Fair coordinator, laid out a plan to the board.

“We have been in heavy discussion and we have been doing a lot of investigating to put together a plan A, a plan B and a plan C depending on what Julie Miller would allow and what she’s going to be comfortable with,” she said.

And the plan they came up with limits what animals will be shown at the fair this year to help keep the numbers down. She explained that events like showmanship and breeding exhibits, along with other events, will be postponed until next year. This means that for this year’s fair the only animals to be exhibited will be the market animals. This also means that there will be no horse shows at the fair. The way the animals will be brought in, weighed and shown is still being decided.

“It is a housing issue,” Dustin Beheler said in regards to a comment made about only having market animals show at the fair. “We have to go abide by state rules … we do not have the housing for (all the animals).”

The board also decided to postpone having a fair king and queen this year. A motion was passed by the board to also give campers who have already reserved a spot at the campground the option to either have a refund or have their reservation rolled over for next year.

With more things still to discuss and figure out, another board meeting was scheduled to take place next week on June 10.

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or jamie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @