MVF proceeds with "scaled-down" fair plan

No concerts or 4-H competition, but plenty of show horses and corn dogs

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A scaled-down Mississippi Valley Fair will run Aug. 4-9 with a full midway, fair-food vendors and a full horse show, but without grandstand concerts, and 4-H competition.

All guests will be asked to wear a face mask, limit touch points and maintain social distancing. Midway rides will be spread further across the 85-acre site, fair director Shawn Loter said Monday.

“To be very clear, we want you to be healthy. We want your families to be healthy. We believe we can continue our longstanding tradition of hosting this fair in a safe and fun manner,” Loter said.

The changes are intended to reduce by as much as half the 300,000 who typically attend the six-day fair.

Loter said the fair board consulted with Scott County Health Department officials to create a different event that will include corn dogs, lemon shake-ups and some of the acts at smaller tents across the grounds.

“We will have fair food, educational exhibits, competitions, carnival rides, local bands and grounds attractions. The health department says our safety plan is consistent with guidance and best practices for events such as ours. We will continue to meet with them as the fair gets closer,” Loter said.

Admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for children 4-12. He said details will be forthcoming about refunds for the $75-$90 fair fun cards that covered admission to all concerts.

MVF publicist Gary Metivier said fair fans can expect, “a scaled down, old-fashioned fair. We’ll reduce hours, share a lot of social distancing and hygiene and reduce the size of everything.”

4-H leaders canceled youth competition in May. Metivier said open livestock shows will be held in the two largest barns.

“They’ve come up with plans for traffic flow and limits to how many can be in certain buildings at the time,” Metivier said.

Horse show organizer Alan Schneckloth of Eldridge said fair fans can expect to see, “basically same as always,” since the horse show began in 1959.

“A lot out east have been canceled. Indiana still has some. Out west still going strong,” he said. “We’ll have people from all over the country.”

Competitions will continue in the show ring and Claussen building.

That includes Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with Belgian hitch classes, from single cart to six-horse.

“We’ll have over a hundred hauler horses,” he said.

Schneckloth said fair officials have discussed one-way passage through the barns.

“We talked about moving things to the grandstand at one time, but we’ll be in the show ring,” he said.

The fair board’s decision comes after cancellations of the Iowa and Illinois state fairs, the Rock Island County Fair, and the John Deere Golf Classic.

The fairgrounds resumed weekly auto races in June and held a Mecum tractor auction last weekend.

“Many states and counties have cancelled or dramatically altered their plans for this year. We are lucky to have a very strong board and management team that has one goal and one goal only: Preserve this longstanding tradition in a safe way to ensure our families always come first,” Loter said.

“We have a tremendous group of board members and volunteers who have been working so hard to come up with a plan to make this happen for you.

“We believe in this fair. We believe in your ability to make this another great opportunity to make new memories and enjoy some normalcy in these trying times,” he said.

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Will there be any big name grandstand concerts?

There will be no large grandstand concerts in 2020. Our popular concerts draw big crowds. Eliminating the grandstand concerts will reduce our overall attendance and allow us to better promote social distancing.

 

Will local bands be performing?

Not only will fairgoers be able to listen to local bands, but the bands themselves will be able to perform on our biggest stage. Local bands will perform in the grandstand. The grandstand has a seating capacity of 6,000, which will allow plenty of space for those attending the performance to practice social distancing.

 

Will the fair host special gate admission days?

There will be no special gate admissions at the fair this year. Our popular special days traditionally drew large crowds. We’re not hosting special gate adminission days in order to prevent a large attendance influx on any given day as well as to protect those who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

 

What can be expected in the carnival area?

Our carnival area will be expanded in order to allow for extra social distancing space. Special promotions for All Day Rides will not be offered.

 

How will you handle competitions that draw large crowds?

Competitions where large attendance numbers would typically be expected will be relocated to our newly renovated 22,500 and 30,000 square foot buildings. There will be limits placed on the number of individuals allowed in the building based on capacity regulations.

 

What procedures will be in place for ticketing, food handling, and sanitation?

The Mississippi Valley Fair will follow CDC guidelines as implemented at other national events.

 

Will outdoor events like the tractor parade and rodeo be relocated?

Yes, outdoor events and competitions, including the tractor parade and rodeo, will be relocated to the grandstand in order to avoid any large gatherings in smaller spaces.

 

Will changes be made to educational displays?

Educational displays in our building will be reconfigured to allow for spacing and flower patterns as recommended by the CDC.

– From the Mississippi Valley Fair

 

Statement from fair director Shawn Loter.

Hello, as many of you know I am Shawn Loter, General Manager of the Mississippi valley fair. This place has always been such a big part of my life. I was basically raised here –living just over there. I love everything about the fair and what it represents. It is a community event.

As this incredible place celebrates more than one hundred years of providing a unique experience for generations, we find ourselves in a unique position.

Many states and counties have cancelled or dramatically altered their plans for this year. We are lucky to have a very strong board and management team that has one goal and one goal only--- preserve this longstanding tradition in a safe way to ensure our families always come first. We have been asking ‘’can that be done this year?”

We have been working in close coordination with the Scott County Health Department and other local and state agencies as well as local chambers and others.

We have come to this conclusion.

We will have a fair this year! The fair will be downsized to accommodate social distancing, good hygiene and overall community health protocols for the health and safety of our fair goers.

We will have fair food, educational exhibits, competitions, carnival rides, local bands and grounds attractions.

The Health department says our safety plan is consistent with guidance and best practices for events such as ours. We will continue to meet with them as the fair gets closer.

Here are some of the changes.

  1. Unfortunately we must postpone the big national acts that perform in the grandstands and we will reschedule them for 2021.
  2. To ensure our most vulnerable are protected—this will be a different kind of fair with no designated special days. While everyone is of course welcome through these gates—we want to encourage those at risk or who have been ill to stay home this year.
  3. There are complete plans being put in place for hand washing, social distancing and other healthy and safety recommendations. The changes will be posted to our website and social media pages by July 1st.
  1. Refunds or an exchange for a 2021 funcards will be given. We will get you more information by July 15th and we will post this on our website and social media.

To be very clear--- we want you to be healthy. We want your families to be healthy. WE believe we can continue our longstanding tradition of hosting this fair in a safe and fun manner. We have a tremendous group of board members and volunteers who have been working so hard to come up with a plan to make this happen for you. We believe in this fair. We believe in your ability to make this another great opportunity to make new memories and enjoy some normalcy in these trying times.

We hope you have patience with us in this process and know that we are moving forward with the best of intentions. We are honored to be working to bring you the best this area has to offer.

This is your Mississippi Valley Fair!

Thank you.

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