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A very different kind of county fair


The 2020 McClain County Free Fair is still a work in progress.

But one thing certain in this year of COVID-19 is it will be an exposition like never seen here.

Take away the commercial exhibitors, the vendors, the special daily and nightly events, the bus loads of school kids and the fairgoers’ access to the exhibit building.

What’s left is a tightly structured schedule with plenty of room for social distancing and plenty of time for sanitizing every surface.

Fair manager Johnny Roberts said Monday that because of the pandemic the 2020 fair which opens September 8 and runs through September 11 will be limited to building and livestock exhibits only.

No spectators will be allowed inside the exhibit building, Roberts said, and it isn’t known yet if there will be a limit on the number of spectators allowed in the barn.

All entries must be made online no later than August 31.

There will be no viewing of building exhibits (4-H, open and OHCE).

And the rabbit show is cancelled due to a statewide ban to curb the spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease.

As it stands now, the schedule is as follows:

September 8

9 a.m. - Horse show

2-7 p.m. – Check in OHCE and open class building exhibits

5-7 p.m. – Check in 4-H building exhibits

September 9

8-9 a.m. – Check in baked goods and fresh flowers

10 a.m. – Judge building exhibits

10 a.m. – Sheep show

September 10

10 a.m. – Market goat show

TBA – Building exhibits released

September 11

10 a.m. – Cattle show

September 12

9 a.m. – Poultry show

10 a.m. – Swine show

Roberts said livestock must arrive on the day they are shown and leave following the show.

No livestock will be permitted to remain in the barn overnight.

That will allow staff to disinfect the facility between shows.

Roberts is “very confident” the fair will go on. But there are alternative plans in the wings if that isn’t possible.

Worse case scenario would be a virtual fair with entrants submitting videos of their exhibits online.

“September 1 is the drop dead date if we go virtual,” Roberts said, adding “You have Plans A, B, C, D and however far we need to go to change it.”

One factor in the McClain County Free Fair’s favor is that without a carnival it is a simpler – and less costly – fair to put on.

“There’s a lot of up-front money” to bringing in a carnival, he explained.

One concern for 4-H and FFA youth showing livestock is the cancellation of this year’s Oklahoma State Fair.

That issue has been resolved with the Exposition for the Youth of Oklahoma Fall Classic livestock show at the Stephens County Fairgrounds at Duncan on September 18-20.

This youth livestock show is open to all Oklahoma youth livestock exhibitors eligible to show at the Oklahoma State Fair.

There has been no announcement if the Tulsa State Fair will also be cancelled.


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