The 2020 Jefferson County Fair has been canceled, said Chris Thebeau, the fair chairman. However, the online Show-Me Your Best Open Exhibits and 4-H Youth Exhibits that were to be held in conjunction with the fair are still on.
Thebeau said an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county convinced organizers to call off the annual event, which had been scheduled for July 23-26 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro.
“It was a very difficult situation to decide to have it (as the pandemic emerged), and it’s a very difficult decision to decide to call it off (as cases surge again),” he said. “It’s kind of a combination of everything – COVID and we have some push back from some of our vendors. The COVID numbers have been going up. Nobody’s got a crystal ball. We thought it best to call it off for everyone’s safety.”
Thebeau said fair board members also were concerned that if a governmental entity were to issue a mandatory mask order, it likely would hurt attendance, not to mention the number of those willing to volunteer at the event.
“We’ve had a number of volunteers who said they wouldn’t work if they had to wear masks,” he said. “People don’t want to wear a mask in the heat.”
Thebeau said other upcoming Jefferson County Fairgrounds events like the Good ‘Old Truck and Tractor Pull in August and the Jefferson County Rodeo in October (after being postponed in June) have not been called off.
“As of now, we are planning on doing these events,” he said.
Thebeau said the fair board intends to bring back the Jefferson County Fair in 2021.
“We’re definitely committing to coming back next year,” he said.
Thebeau advises those interested in Jefferson County Fairgrounds events to look for updates at jeffersoncountyfair.net.
The Show-Me Your Best Open Exhibits and 4-H Youth Exhibits portion of fair, which typically is held in person but was shifted to a virtual event this year, is proceeding as planned.
“We are still moving forward,” said Mistti Ritter, the county engagement specialist for the University of Missouri Jefferson County Extension Office in Hillsboro. “This will give Jefferson County residents, including 4-H youth members, the chance to show and showcase their work.”
Among the more than 100 categories to be judged in the annual event are baking; photography; arts; crafts; clothing and other textiles; flowers and houseplants.
All entries are to be registered and photographed for online judging either at the University of Missouri Jefferson County Extension office, 301 Third St., in Hillsboro, or at he Jefferson County Civic Center at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Registration at the Extension office began Monday and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday.
Those who want to register at the Civic Club office may do so from 2-7 p.m. Monday (July 20).
“We’ve already had participants stop by the office,” Ritter said.
She said organizers hope the competition will return to an in-person event next year and with the online effort, “we are looking to provide come continuity for the event.”
For a complete list of categories, competition guidelines and entry forms, visit the Extension website at extension.missouri.edu/jefferson. Competition guides and entry forms also are available at the Extension office. Emails may be sent to JeffersonCo@missouri.edu.
To view the exhibits, beginning July 23, go to the MU Extension in Jefferson County Facebook page.