The Washington State Fair in Puyallup has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Fair Board of Directors made the decision after reviewing information and recommendations by the Fair’s management team. The Fair had been scheduled for Sept. 4-27.
“The Washington State Fair has featured the best of our state for the past 120 years,” said the Fair’s CEO Kent Hojem in a statement posted Wednesday on the Fair’s website. “We have met the challenges of fires and floods, withstood changes in culture and the challenges of time and, except for the four years of World War II, operated uninterrupted that entire span.
“Now, after thoughtful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Fair. At its core, any fair, ours included, is a people-gathering event, the more people the better. That hypothesis runs contrary to the challenges of containing this pandemic. Consequently, though it was a difficult decision, it was really the only decision possible based on what we currently know. It was a decision made in what we feel are the best interests of the health and safety of all of our guests, our employees, our exhibitors; basically all of our constituents.
“We realize this action will have severe impacts, both emotionally and financially, on all of our partners. We know that not having a fair this year creates a hardship for many, but people are the most important component in the incredibly complex equation of what makes up our fair. Health and safety are our greatest concerns. There are other concerns. Our people, our fair people, have expectations of what the Washington State Fair will be; that wonderful blend of exciting new things and rich traditions. The potential limitations brought on by the necessity of social distancing, would create a situation that could not reflect the future memories that we would want the 2020 Fair to produce.
“There are so many things that we will miss by not hosting our Fair this year: the livestock, the carnival, the fair food, the Farm at SillyVille, the rodeo, the concerts, all the exhibits, the commercial vendors, and too many other things to mention. But most of all, we will miss you, our Fair friends. So though we have hit the pause button on preparations for this year’s Washington State Fair, we will take this time to ensure that we can produce a great fair in 2021.
Since 1900, the Washington State Fair has been ‘Washington’s home to gather and celebrate.’ We want to make certain that we remain that home for generations to come. This is our mission statement and we intend to welcome you all home as soon as we can.”
Hojem said they waited as long as they possibly could, but based on what they currently know in the governor’s phased approach to reopening the economy, this was the time to make the decision to cancel.
Fair officials are attempting to reschedule the rodeo and concerts for future dates. Once a plan is in place, the Fair will make an announcement on what the options will be.
Hojem said they realize canceling the Fair will have severe economic impacts on all of its partners, near and far. It also creates a hardship for thousands of seasonal employees.
“But in this complicated equation, we must also take into consideration, the health and safety of all these stakeholders,” Hojem said.