The Virginia Farm Bureau board of directors has announced the decision to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Virginia, and instead hold a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock Show. The traditional fair that was scheduled for Sept. 25 through Oct. 4 will not take place due to complications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was a difficult decision, but safety is our number one priority,” said Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “We’ve spent months developing plans and scenarios that would allow us to still host the fair this year, but with the ever-changing, unpredictable COVID-19 situation, we just couldn’t make it work.”
The State Fair of Virginia is an annual event that nurtures, preserves and celebrates the best of Virginia’s past, present and future through scholarship initiatives, creative programming and a focus on the commonwealth’s agriculture and natural resources industries. In 2019, nearly 245,000 people attended the State Fair.
The complexity of the event requires thousands of hours of planning by staff, partners and vendors; planning typically begins many months before the fair’s opening day. “In a normal year, preparing for this annual event is a huge undertaking. In the midst of a global pandemic, it just wasn’t feasible,” Jolliffe noted.
Agriculture and youth are the foundation of the fair’s mission, “so our first priority was to find a way to honor our youth and allow them to be recognized for their dedication and hard work,” noted VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “While a modified State Fair 4-H Livestock Show is not ideal, we believe it will allow our youth to showcase the yearlong effort they’ve put into raising their animals, and enable them to earn scholarship money as well.”
Pryor said every precaution will be taken to keep participants safe during the event. State Fair staff are working with Virginia Cooperative Extension employees to finalize plans for the livestock show, and those details will be announced at a later date.
The State Fair has been held each fall since 2009 at its permanent home at the 330-acre Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. The event was established in 1854, and was not held in 1918 due to the Spanish influenza pandemic.
“While our hearts are heavy, we believe this is the right thing to do,” Jolliffe said. “It is important that we are good stewards of our operation and consider the health and welfare of our communities.
“We are thankful for the thousands who make this magical event come to life each September. To our dedicated fairgoers, staff, sponsors, exhibitors, 4-H & FFA members, vendors, volunteers and entertainers—we look forward to seeing you at next year’s fair, Sept. 24 through Oct. 3. We will be back bigger, better and stronger.”
For more information on the State Fair 4-H Livestock Show and updated FAQ resources, visit statefairva.org.
Other activities and events at The Meadow will continue to be held following governmental guidelines and allowed capacities.