Recommendation to cancel 2020 Kansas State Fair expected next week

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 2:50 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Approaching two weeks after the Kansas State Fair’s board voted to continue with plans for this year’s event in Hutchinson, the board will likely reconsider that decision, Eyewitness News learned Thursday (July 9).

Next Monday (July 13), Eyewitness News learned the Kansas State Fair’s staff will recommend canceling the 2020 state fair. Previously within the past couple of weeks, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas are among states that canceled state fairs for this year. If Kansas State Fair staff’s proposal is accepted by the board Monday, it’ll be the first time the fair has been canceled in more than 100 years.

The state fair staff had a plan to hold the fair as scheduled in September with safety measures in place in an effort to protect against COVID-19. This week, the staff said it’s unlikely that they can financially make the state fair happen this year, even if COVID-19 trends reverse course back to a positive, declining direction.

Kansas State Fair General Manager Robin Jennison said after the board’s June 30 vote to keep the state fair on as scheduled for Sept. 11-20 in Hutchinson, vendors began calling, saying they wouldn’t be able to make it to this year’s fair.

That’s primarily why the fair staff will recommend that the board cancel the 2020 Kansas State Fair. Jennison said there are a few reasons fair vendors pulled out.

“Some vendors, they themselves were concerned, genuinely concerned,” Jennison said. “There were some having difficulty getting a crew together to do the fair. Then there are some that run the circuit, and there were some that run the circuit, so when Nebraska’s not going to have their fair, and Oklahoma wasn’t going to have their fair, and Texas wasn’t going to have their fair, it didn’t make sense for those vendors to mobilize to come to Kansas.”

Russ Silvey who owns Russ & Annie’s at the Kansas State Fairgrounds and each year caters the Governor’s Luncheon said he’s spoken with other vendors and understands their decision to opt-out of this year’s fair.

“We feel that the attendance probably will not be what we’re used to. Plus, we have additional steps and employees we have to hire for this fair to stay by their guidelines,” Silvey said.

Silvey did not pull out of the 2020 Kansas State Fair but said vendors are small businesses and need to make money. He said with less attendance anticipated at this year’s fair if it does happen, it’s unlikely many vendors would benefit from coming.

Jennison said he thinks they’ll be able to roll most of the entertainment tickets for the Kansas State Fair over to next year if the board does vote to cancel the fair. If that happens, he said they’ll likely take the next 30 days to figure out refunds.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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