By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board’s executive committee is recommending a youth exhibit fair only for this year’s Dunn County Fair and that it be conducted “virtually.”
At a joint meeting May 6, the Dunn County facilities committee and the Dunn County Fair Board met using the online platform Zoom to discuss this year’s Dunn County Fair in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Charles Maves, Dunn County Board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the facilities committee, at the executive committee’s May 13 meeting.
Following the joint meeting, the facilities committee recommended canceling the grandstand events at the Dunn County Fair as well as canceling the carnival and the exhibits in the commercial building, he said.
One member of the executive committee wondered why the food court and food vendors were not included in the facilities committee recommendation.
The food court was not part of the recommendation — only the grandstand, the carnival and the commercial building, Maves said.
Paul Miller, county manager, offered a recommendation for wording on the resolution regarding the Dunn County Fair to make it a 4-H youth exhibit fair only conducted remotely (by Facebook, live-streaming or some other online platform) that would not be open to the public.
The Dunn County Public Health Department says to avoid all situations where people gather in groups to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Miller said, adding that food trucks and food booths also should not be allowed at the fair this year.
As of May 14, Dunn County had 20 positive cases of COVID-19. Wisconsin had 11,275 cases and 434 deaths. The United States had 1.44 million cases and 86,248 deaths. Worldwide there were 4.4 million cases of the highly contagious virus and 301,000 deaths. As of May 13, the United States had 20,568 new cases of COVID-19.
While 4-H is the majority of the youth exhibits at the fair, there are also FFA exhibits and exhibits from other youth groups, said James Anderson, Dunn County Board supervisor from Menomonie.
The facilities committee and the fair board had much discussion about the other groups. The whole intent of the fair is for youth to exhibit their projects, Maves said.
Food stands were discussed as well, and there was some concern that the 4-H food stand should be able to operate because it is a fund raiser for the 4-H clubs, he said.
Maves said members of his family had tested positive for COVID-19 this week, and when considering the question about food stands, it is important to ask, “what is a life worth?”
Other counties have canceled their fairs entirely, Miller said.
What would be the outside date to cancel the fair? Anderson asked.
The recommendation is not to stop the Dunn County Fair but to have a virtual fair, said Dave Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board.
The fair will go on in some way — the fair will be in some form, he said.
The Dunn County Fair will just not be a “normal” traditional fair this year, Maves said.
The 4-H club members, FFA members and other youth groups will have a way to display their projects with restrictions, he said.
The county board will have to take action in May, because if action is delayed until June and the fair is in July, that does not leave enough time to cancel any contracts that may have already been signed, Miller said.
Miller said he would refine the language and make it clear the youth exhibits would not be restricted only to 4-H exhibits but would include other youth groups, too, and that the fair exhibits would be shown remotely.
The final resolution will be available at the Dunn County Board meeting on May 20, Bartlett said.
The Dunn County Board’s executive committee unanimously approved forwarding the resolution that would cancel the grandstand, the carnival, the commercial exhibits and food vendors, would only allow youth exhibits for this year’s Dunn County Fair, and would not allow the public to attend.