TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-No concert, fewer seats in the grandstands, no open class exhibits, and more days of carnival rides, that will be some of the big changes at the 2020 Twin Falls County Fair planned for this September. The Twin Falls County Fair Board and Fair Manager John Pitz revealed this years fair plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a precaution social distancing will be encouraged and accommodated for, multiple hand washing and sanitizing stations will be placed around the fairgrounds, and yes, masks will be strongly encouraged, but not required. Pitz said during a press event the Fair Board conducted a survey on the upcoming fair which predicted a 15 to 20 percent drop in attendance, an anticipated loss of about $150,000. The Twin Falls County Fair has already taken a financial hit as several events had to be cancelled earlier this year as the pandemic hit Idaho, “We already took a $20,000 hit from shutting events down in March and April,” said Pitz.
This year’s live concert has been canceled by the artist, Granger Smith, and rescheduled for next year. In place of the concern another rodeo, for a total of four nights, will take place with 50 percent reduced capacity in the arena. Pitz said they’ve made the room for people to social distance, it’ll be up to the public if they want to do that. He said he is also predicting to have an increase in participants at the rodeo as athletes look to other events to compete at as many rodeos and fairs have canceled around the country.
Another exhibit people will not see this year is what is called the open classes, like the photography, arts and crafts, painting, antiques, and food exhibits. Some buildings typically used for the open classes will be used as a place for people to eat with air conditioning. The merchant building will be spread out more with one way in and one way out to create a flow for foot traffic in a single direction. So far, according to Pitz, none of the food vendors have cancelled. He said people who took the survey indicated that food at the fair was the number one reason for attending.
Another big change will be another full weekend of the Mighty Thomas Carnival, which will come and set up a weekend earlier between Friday, August 28 to August 30. Admission will be free and several rides will be eliminated to make more room for social distancing. Pitz said all the rides will be sanitized after each ride and employees will be wearing masks and health checked at the beginning of each day.
If the governor reestablishes stricter COVID-19 orders than what is already in place, Stage Four which allows for 50 people or more in outdoor gatherings, that could throw a wrench into the whole plan, “If the state drops to stage three, we’re pretty much done with everything except the 4-H exhibit,” said Pitz. Gov. Brad Little is expected to host a press conference Thursday on the status of the state and Stage Four of his reopening plans.