Fair and festival organizers struggling to decide if events should be canceled

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On most summer weekends in West Virginia you can find a fair or a festival to attend. But right now many of those events are up in the air because of COVID-19.

One of the major events in limbo right now is the State Fair of West Virginia. Kelly Collins is the CEO of the event and the president of the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals. She said many are waiting for crucial information about what to do. When it comes to the State Fair they are looking at mid-June as a time frame to decide.

“We are still planning the fair as usual because it takes so long to plan this event it is not like we can wait until July and then decide to have this event,” Collins said. The State Fair and others like county fairs and festivals have contracts with rental companies, vendors and performers.

“In some cases you do have to pay for that. It depends on the contract and the specific artist. This is not a normal emergency. It is a pandemic and something no one can plan for so some of the contracts do allow for an out. But it is making sure you have the correct officials telling you what you can do and when you can do it,” Collins explained.

Fairs and festivals also have a major impact on the local economy. Collins said that is another concern with the uncertainty ahead.

“It is a little heartbreaking. It is not just us here at the State Fair. We have a $13.8 million impact on the State of West Virginia.”

Even if the events are able to move forward there will likely be major changes. Until they know exactly what those changes will be organizers say it is still difficult to plan ahead. Many other event organizers in our area are scrambling to make final decisions about their events as well. They are looking to state leaders for guidance on what to do.

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