Cotton candy, carnival rides and racing pigs will have to wait for another summer, according to the board of directors for the Kenai Peninsula Fair. The annual fair in Ninilchik has been canceled and will resume in 2021.
The board made an announcement on the fair’s Facebook page June 30. Board President Jim Stearns said it was not an easy decision and that it came with spirited discussion among the board members.
The fair, which is held at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, had been scheduled for Aug. 14-16 and was canceled due to safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19. While the board voted unanimously to cancel the fair this year, the rodeo that traditionally happens in conjunction with the fair is scheduled to continue. Stearns explained that while the two events both occur at the fairgrounds at the same time, the rodeo operates independently of the fair.
Even if the fair had gone on this summer, it would have been without the 4-H livestock auction, Stearns explained. Run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension, Alaska 4-H canceled in-person activities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
There was some argument for putting the fair on this year with safety precautions, Stearns said, but in the end the board decided it was not worth the risk after hearing feedback from the community.
“We don’t want to be responsible for an outbreak on the Kenai Peninsula,” he said.
Stearns referenced the current outbreak in Seward as a situation the fair board members want to avoid. What the community stood to gain from the fair was outweighed by the health risks that would have come with it, he said.
There is the possibility of a small vendor fair taking place in conjunction with the rodeo, if things are looking more stable by August, Stearns said. The rodeo will go on either way, but he said the fair will decide at a later date whether to hold a food and craft fair with Alaska-only vendors the same weekend.
For now, though, Stearns said the fair board is focusing on “making next year’s fair the best one ever.”
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