The State Fair joins an ever-growing list of annual events drawing large crowds canceled because of the novel coronavirus.
When it was initially announced by Gov. Jim Justice that the fair could proceed and would simply “look very different,” there was a lot of head-scratching about how such an event could take place, even with plans to keep people properly distanced and everything sanitized.
As West Virginia and other states have resumed some activities that allow large gatherings, COVID-19 cases have surged — with new cases in West Virginia linked to crowds at church services. The fair board must have recognized the risk for disaster in making its decision this week.
As with all of the other events that have been canceled or heavily modified (Charleston’s FestivALL kicks off its online-only activities this weekend), it’s a shame. The fair generates a lot of money for the local economy in Lewisburg and draws tourism dollars from across the region. It’s a shame that kids who have worked so hard on their 4-H or Future Farmers of America projects won’t get to present them — or make money from auctions. It’s a shame that people who look forward to this event every year won’t get to go.
Despite all of that, it’s the right decision. As with everything these days, the benefit has to be weighed against the risk, and the public health threat COVID-19 presents — especially with so many people traveling from all over to one location — is simply too great.
It had to have been a hard decision, but the fair board should be lauded for making the tough, correct call.