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Belmont Junior Fair coming in September

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The full Belmont County Fair may have been called off due to risks from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the Junior Fair remains scheduled for Sept. 8 through Sept. 13.

Several members of the Junior Fair Board visited the Belmont County board of commissioners Wednesday to update them on preparations for the event.

Animal showing and sales along with awards will continue to be the main events. The participants described working under restrictions imposed since the state forbade all but junior county fairs and mandated masks and social distancing practices.

The fair board representatives said they were happy to still have the opportunity and look forward to participating.

They continue to work with the Belmont County Health Department to ensure that all guidelines will be followed. Sanitizing stations will be placed around the fairgrounds and bleachers will be sanitized before and after every show. Signs will also be placed encouraging social distancing.

Board member Alyssa Betts said the board will also provide an example by wearing masks and social distancing.

They have also been rescheduling events such as weighing and shows to keep with the 10 p.m. curfew.

Board assistant treasurer Megan Garrison emphasized the importance of the showmanship.

“We have been adamant on keeping the showmanship aspect of it, because that’s a big part of what us kids look forward to,” she said.

“Some of these kids have had animals since December and the beginning of the year,” board member Kaylin Burress said.

Garrison added each species of animal requires a different approach and a thorough understanding to show the animal to its best.

“The showmanship represents me and shows how good of a showman I am,” she said.

In answer to a question from Commissioner J.P. Dutton, the board members said in March, fair participants were faced with the choice of whether or not to take the chance and buy animals for the fair.

They referred to Monroe County’s decision to cancel fair activities.

“It’s just like sports. This is our sports,” Garrison said.

4-H program assistant Crystal Antill, said the general impact on 4-H, while the enrollment numbers and 4-H members taking on livestock projects are the same, some have decided not to present their projects.

“They did complete them, but they’re not bringing them to fair,” Antill said. “I expect to see a decrease of animal projects actually exhibiting at the fair, but I do commend the kids who really stuck to the projects.”

She expects about 400 to 500 participants to show livestock, some with multiple animal projects. Normally, about 700.

Antill added they will continue to have junior fair royalty, and the court has been selected. The royalty ceremony has been set for Sept. 7.

“Our youth are very resilient. They are resilient and they know how to be flexible,” she said.

“4-H definitely prepares them for life, and these were good life lessons they had to learn this year,” OSU Extension Educator Tracey Dickerson, said.

“COVID had definitely affected the program, but we are so thankful we are able to have a junior fair,” Dickerson said. “I’ve been very much amazed and wowed by the youth of our county and the volunteers and what they’ve been able to accomplish.”

Belmont County Fair Board President Ed Campbell also commended the junior fair board and said they have continued to improve the fairground infrastructure in the previous months.

“This has been a very hard and trying year for us,” Campbell said, thanking the commissioners for their support.

“The grounds out there continue to improve, and I think we have a facility that really should be the envy of many counties across the state,” Dutton said.

In answer to a question from Commissioner Jerry Echemann, Campbell said the normal baking and canning and arts and crafts were also canceled, since they would be in an enclosed building. The junior fair participants who have completed skill projects such as woodworking and sewing will have their booths set up.

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