Kansas State Fair decision could serve as a double-edge sword

Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A possible change of direction could come Monday from the Kansas State Fair Board.

The recommendation before them is to cancel the 2020 State Fair because organizers said a number of vendors had backed out since the board decided at the end of June to keep the fair on the schedule.

Whatever the decision, there will be an impact.

“Once a year customers. They only come during the fair. They come from out of town, out of state and we look forward to them. We see them every year. They come in and eat and they bring the entire family,” said Mallory Heim, a manager at the ice cream shop Bogey’s.

When the Kansas State Fair rolls into Hutchinson, at Bogey’s think of it like a 10-day long Black Friday.

“Fair really sets us up for the rest of the year,” said Heim. “So to not have it, we’ll be definitely struggling.”

The 2020 Kansas State Fair could meet the same fate of dozens of other state fairs in other states like Oklahoma and Texas canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You either have it and you have to be super safe or you don’t have and you’re completely safe. It’s a risk,” Heim said.

A 2018 Kansas Department of Agriculture report shows the Kansas State Fair brings in $74.6 million a year for the state’s economy. In a 60 mile radius of the fairgrounds, it accounts for $40 million of the economic activity.

Heim said, “September usually is a really big month for us because of all the extra revenue from the fair customers. If we don’t have the fair, it’s going to be a pretty big impact on our business.”

Another cost that has to be considered this year is public health implications.

“It’s an interesting time. It’s like how do you prepare for that many customers in this small of a space with COVID-19 still going on,” said Heim.

Bogey’s has known the implications of the virus, closing down for a month in the spring.

“Nobody wants to be closed for a month in the restaurant business and especially a small business,” said Heim.

She added, “Difficult time. It’s a lot of cleaning, a lot of wearing masks. Trying to social distance in the kitchen and we haven’t even reopened the dining room yet.”

Whatever direction the board ends up taking, the situation is a catch-22.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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