The show must go on — even if not exactly as planned.
Organizers of the Box Elder County Fair met last week to set the schedule for the weeklong celebration, scheduled for Aug. 22-29 in Tremonton. The uncertainty surrounding the status of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to plan for the huge event, which draws thousands of people from around Utah and the Intermountain West, but officials are doing their best to put on a show that keeps the fair’s deeply held traditions as intact as possible while maintaining public safety.
Mainstays like the Box Elder Junior Livestock show and Golden Spike Rodeo are still happening, but others like the parade, carnival and daily bandstand entertainment have been scrapped.
“We need to cowboy up and focus on what we can do,” County Commissioner Stan Summers said.
The 95th edition of the fair will be one to remember in part because of coronavirus-related restrictions, but organizers are working to make sure that isn’t the main takeaway when all is said and done.
Some of the details are still being worked out, and will be in flux in the coming weeks because of the need to adapt to whatever conditions are present at fair time, said Jan Rhodes, manager of the Box Elder County Fairgrounds and president of the fair’s board of directors.
“You can plan on 4-H and FFA exhibits along with home arts and crafts on display, the Golden Spike Rodeo and great fair food,” Rhodes said.
Among the details still to be worked out are whether and how social distancing will be implemented at the rodeo, which saw record-high crowds last year following the installation of new seating at the main arena. A live concert benefiting Utah Honor Flight to kick off the celebration is still in the works as well.
Noticeably absent will be the annual parade, carnival, bandstand entertainment, fun run and commercial exhibits. Organizers determined those events would present too many challenges to be able to pull them off in a safe manner.
“There is no higher priority for Box Elder County than the health and safety of our fair partners, participants, guests and community,” a statement from fair organizers reads.
For many, the junior livestock show is the centerpiece of the fair, and organizers were determined to keep it that way, even if it means keeping people out of the crowded auction building.
“This is a great opportunity for the Box Elder County community to remember what the fair is all about — the traditions of community and agriculture and the chance for our youth to see the rewards of their hard work,” the statement reads.
The theme for this year’s fair is “Where Generations Share the Magic.” A full schedule of events will be available in the coming weeks, and more details will be published as they become available.