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Dunn County Board restricts county fair to youth exhibits only

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  — The Dunn County Board has approved a resolution restricting this year’s Dunn County Fair in July to youth exhibits only.

The facilities committee and the Dunn County Fair Board held a joint meeting May 6 and agreed that the main goal of the fair should be to allow the youth to show their projects, said Charles Maves, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the facilities committee, at the May 20 Dunn County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The resolution was drafted with the understanding that youth exhibits at the fair would follow the health department order of no more than 10 people in a group and follow social distancing parameters of six feet between people, he said.

The Dunn County Fair Board will determine how they show the animals and other exhibits, Maves said.

The resolution notes that the Dunn County Board declared a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 18.

The county’s state of emergency is for a period of six months and will expire September 18.

The resolution also notes the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a continuing health emergency and still presents great health risks to citizens and that the Dunn County Fair, held annually in July, typically draws hundreds of people to the Dunn County Recreation Park each day of the fair, “which creates an environment where person-to-person transmission of communicable diseases, including COVID-19,  is a high risk.”

As of May 21, there were 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and just shy of 95,000 deaths.

Worldwide, there were 5 million confirmed cases and 328,000 deaths.

In Wisconsin, there were 13,885 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 487 deaths.

Larry Bjork, county board supervisor from Menomonie, said he supported the resolution restricting the county fair to only youth-related exhibits.

“It won’t be the same, but it will be something to remember,” he said.

“I think the decision is right,” said James Anderson, county board supervisor from Menomonie.

But considering the restrictions, what about the meat animal project and the meat animal auction? Anderson asked.

The meat animal auction draws a sizable crowd of people sitting shoulder to shoulder on bleachers and benches.

Maves said he did not have an answer to Anderson’s question and that the fair board will be working out the details of the exhibits and the meat animal auction.

The meat animal projects were discussed during the joint meeting, and the meat processors have been contacted and are willing to process the meat animals, said Tim Niehoff, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee.

Some of the discussion focused on live-streaming the youth exhibit events, so perhaps a meat animal auction could be conducted by live-stream, he said.

The section of the resolution pertaining to the fair reads, “Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Dunn County Board of Supervisors hereby order that the 2020 Dunn County Fair shall consist only of 4-H and other youth-group related activities that can be conducted remotely; that all other elements of the Fair, including but not limited to events that take place in the grandstand, the carnival, the food court, food trucks and booths, the beer gardens, the free stage, the display and contest booths, and use of the commercial building, and all and any such activities that involve groups of people gathering in close proximity, shall not take place; and that no activity associated with the County Fair shall be open to the general public.”

Michael Rogers, county board supervisor from Menomonie, said he did not agree with the resolution limiting youth exhibits to be conducted only remotely.

The resolution says “that can be conducted remotely,” and does not say “shall be conducted remotely,” said Paul Miller, county manager.

The resolution says “shall” prior to that, Rogers said.

Miller reiterated the resolution says “can be conducted remotely,” and that the resolution is not intended to be prohibitive.

Rogers said he still disagreed with the meaning of the wording but appreciated the resolution was not intended to restrict youth exhibits to only being conducted remotely.

The Dunn County Board unanimously approved the resolution restricting the 2020 Dunn County Fair activities.

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