Jun 30, 2020 10:02 PM

Kansas State Fair to go forward, despite KDHE Sec.'s advice to cancel

Posted Jun 30, 2020 10:02 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Kansas State Fair Board is allowing the fair to go forward in 2020, despite a recommendation from the state's top health official that the board not continue the fair.

"We understand what a difficult decision you guys have," said Fair General Manager Robin Jennison. "It was relatively easy for us to put together the safest plan we thought there was to have a fair. The only thing that I would say to you to make sure that you're all doing what's really in your heart in this case is, the further we go, the tougher it is to unwind, and that's why we picked today."

The board voted 8 to 5 to continue forward with the fair, but canceled the rabbit show and to change online and advance tickets to $10 with on-site tickets at the gate now $12 for adults.

"I think we've all studied this to death since it started," Jennison said. "I've read more about COVID. I read a 1940 study on how, when people cough, what happens. We will do everything we can to make this fair as safe as possible. If we determine between now and then that we need to do some social distancing in the buildings or on the, in the grandstands, we'll make every attempt to do it as effectively as we can."

The Kansas State Fair is scheduled for Sept. 11 to 20, 2020.

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Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary
Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman advised the State Fair Board at their meeting on Tuesday that they should cancel the fair.

"If I were only talking about it from a public health perspective, it would be best to not have the State Fair," Norman said. "There's no question, it will engender illness."

Norman doesn't think fairgoers will wear masks.

"I think it will be a really tough sell for people to comply with social distancing and mask wearing for example, at a fair, whether it's a state fair, county fair, music venue, that kind of thing," Norman said. "People just aren't doing it, quite honestly."

Another concern is that inmates from the Hutchinson Correctional Facility often work helping to clean up the fairgrounds.

"I'm making the strong recommendation to Secretary Zmuda to not allow the offenders out of there," Norman said. "I've been through this at Lansing, I've been through this in the Wichita Work Release. If a few people go into that facility, there's going to be a thousand cases inside the correctional facility at Hutchinson. Not being hysterical, that's just what we've seen. Anytime it's a confined living situation like that and that facility is old."

At least sixteen other state fairs across the U.S. have already been canceled.

Check the Post for additional details on the State Fair as they become available.