State Fair of West Virginia organizers moving forward with 2020 event

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While many festivals and fairs across the state have shut down for 2020 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the State Fair of West Virginia will go on as scheduled.

According to a news release Thursday, the State Fair’s board of directors voted to proceed as planned with the annual festival, set for Aug. 13-22 in Fairlea.

“The State Fair of West Virginia exists to strengthen the state of West Virginia and bring people together,” Board Chairman Ralph Warren said. “We will be working with our health officials over the next few months to make sure we are taking all necessary steps to protect our fairgoers, exhibitors, vendors, staff and community.”

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice gave the go-ahead for fairs, festivals and amusement parks to resume as early as July 1. The Governor’s Office also provided guidance for organizers looking to operate this year.

As a result, this year’s State Fair likely will look very different from previous years, as that guidance encourages limiting crowd sizes and taking steps to ensure proper social distancing is maintained. Fair organizers also announced plans to implement enhanced cleaning procedures and COVID-19 testing for carnival employees and other fair workers.

According to the release, organizers said they plan to collaborate with local and national public health agencies, including the Greenbrier County Health Department and the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center. Organizers said they would watch for new developments around COVID-19 that could affect the fair operation and make modifications accordingly.

“We congratulate all those with the State Fair on their decision to move forward,” Justice said in a separate statement. “They’re going to abide by strict guidelines, but the fair is so meaningful to so many people. It’s a phenomenal event and it’s a celebration of West Virginia.”

The concert lineup previously announced for this year’s State Fair included country shows by Cody Johnson, with John Wolfe, and John Pardi, southern rock band Whiskey Meyers and Contemporary Christian singer Chris Tomlin. The release said changes to the concerts and free entertainment would be announced in the coming weeks.

The State Fair of West Virginia was created in 1941 from the Greenbrier Valley Fair, whose roots go back to the 1850s. Other than the period during World War II, the fair has been held every year.

According to the State Fair, the event annually draws 170,000 people over 10 days and brings a $13.8 million dollar economic impact to West Virginia.

State Fair organizers could not be reached for comment.

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