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C-virus Rules Force Organizers to Consider Canceling Fairs in Fairbanks, Delta, Salcha

Tanana Valley State Fair Association

Organizers of the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks say they’ll decide soon whether to hold this year’s event or cancel it out of concerns over spreading coronavirus. Meanwhile, organizers of two smaller regional fairs in Delta Junction and Salcha say they still hope to conduct their communities’ annual country fairs this summer.

State officials have eased-up on some of the restrictions imposed over the past couple of months to reduce the spread of COVID-19, like their recent decision to allow groups of up to 50 to congregate. But Tanana Valley State Fair Executive Director Mahla Strohmaier says she and other organizers worry about trying to pull off a much bigger event.

“The jump from a 50-person gathering to a 10,000-person gathering is a pretty big leap,” she said.

Strohmaier says organizers certainly want to stage the event on this, its 96th year. But she says this year they’ll also have to do that while complying with stringent health mandates.

“Our most important concern is the safety and well-being of our community,” she said. “So, we are weighing very heavily all of the options involved in having a fair this year.”

Strohmaier says members of the fair’s board of directors will continue studying how they might be able to conduct the event. And she says they’ll announce their decision in two weeks (June 2).

“We are weighing all options,” she said.

The Tanana Valley State Fair was tentatively been scheduled to begin July 31. That’s the same day the Deltana Fair and Music Festival in Delta Junction was supposed to begin. But the fair’s board of directors has already announced it has canceled this year’s event in Delta, due to coronavirus concerns.

Credit Deltana Fair and Music Festival
Aside from the rides and midway vendors, the Deltana Fair and Music Festival's attractions include an assortment of agricultural-themed events like the tractor pull and kids rodeo.

Board president Paul Meyers says he still holds out hope they can put on at least an abbreviated version of the event a bit later in the summer.

“We hope to have a one-day event in August,” he said.

But Meyers says that would only happen if state officials ease-up even more on restrictions, especially social-distancing guidelines that require people to maintain 6 feet of space between them. And he says right now that seems unlikely.

“But from what the state had told me and our local emergency management told me – no, it will not be over,” Meyers said.

If the Deltana Fair is canceled, it’ll be the first time since 1980 that the event isn’t held.
Meanwhile, organizers of the Salcha Country Fair they they too still hope to conduct this year’s event. The fair board revamped it in 2018 and scheduled it to be held a bit later, in August. Board president Christy Abel said Monday she and her fellow board members are waiting to see what the state does before making a decision on whether to hold their fair this year.