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Ohio State Fair Will Be Closed To Public In 2021

The Ohio State Fair has been canceled for 2020.
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State Fair will be closed to the public in 2021.

The Ohio State Fair will be closed to the public this summer, the second year in a row the annual event has been curtailed by the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the Ohio Expositions Commission announced that the festival, which begins July 19 at the state fairgrounds in Columbus, won't offer its usual slate of rides, concerts, live entertainment, food or shopping. Instead, the fair will focus on agricultural and educational competitions — what organizers called their "roots."

“Although vaccination rates are improving significantly each day, Ohio continues to fight the battle against COVID-19," said general manager Virgil Strickler in a statement. "Where we are today in this battle makes it challenging to plan a large-scale entertainment event, not knowing where we will be, or what Ohio will look like, in late July."

Strickler added that the state's safety protocols on indoor entertainment would have led to lower attendance, and therefore turn into a financial hit for the organization.

"In a typical year, the Ohio State Fair’s budget is designed to break even, with a nominal profit, if any," Strickler said. "Hosting a full fair this year would likely lead to significant financial loss.”

Last year's Ohio State Fair was canceled entirely, with organizers citing the difficulties of social distancing. It was the first time in 75 years that the fair wasn't held in any form.

In 2019, almost 935,000 people attended the state fair over its 12-day run, and the event contributes nearly $75 million to the state economy.

Among this year's surviving activities are youth and senior livestock competitions, plus 4-H and other educational competitions. The deadline for competitors to enter is June 20, 2021.

The Expositions Commission says that next year's Ohio State Fair is currently scheduled for July 27-August 7, 2022, with the hope of returning to the usual abundance of offerings.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.