Coronavirus: Kentucky State Fair ordered closed to general public

Coronavirus: Kentucky State Fair ordered closed to general public
Rides and the midway will be closed to the general public when the Kentucky State Fair opens Aug. 20. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky State Fair will be closed to the general public and move to a participant-only format due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic,

Gov. Andy Beshear made the announcement during his Thursday briefing on COVID-19, WLKY reported.

Limiting the attendance of the 10-day event, scheduled to open Aug. 20, will allow “a more feasible way to conduct contact tracing and also provide the greatest reduction in the spread of COVID-19,” officials wrote on the fair’s website.

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Only participants and assisting family members will be able to attend, fair officials said.

Beshear said the fair board’s decision was due to uncertainty over Kentucky’s latest coronavirus data.

“This is something the fair boards came to, understanding it’s their responsibility to protect Kentuckians, to create a safe atmosphere for everyone,” Beshear said. “And it’s a decision that I fully support.”

The restrictions mean that the Midway, the Texas Roadhouse Concert Series, outdoor entertainment, Lot A exhibits, the Kentucky State Fair Entertainment Tent and outdoor food vendors will be closed, fair officials said.

Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner, said the board’s decision was proper, stating, “I think they did the safe thing.” 

With the exception of watermelon and pumpkin contests, general/non-livestock events also will be canceled. Masks will be required on-site.

“Although the fair will be different this year, the rich tradition of promoting the equestrian and agricultural progress of the state will endure,” Steven Wilson, the Kentucky State Fair Board Chairman, told WLKY.

“There’s no question that the scale back in the fair is going to have a large economic impact on the state fair board and the operations,” Beshear said.