After weighing all economic and public health and safety considerations, the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has decided to cancel the 2020 Arapahoe County Fair that had been scheduled for July 23-26. The County is finalizing details of hosting a limited 4-H competition and conducting a virtual junior livestock auction. The Arapahoe County Fair is one of many events across Colorado that have been canceled, postponed or moved to virtual settings in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Last year’s Arapahoe County Fair hosted a record number of visitors—more than 27,000 attendees across the four-day event. In making its decision, the Board consulted with the County’s Fair management team—as well as with the Tri-County Health Department, the County’s Office of Emergency Management, and event experts. It’s unclear that COVID-19 concerns and public health orders will have abated enough by late-July to make it safe to hold such a large public gathering at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds & Events Center.
The health and safety of Arapahoe County Fairgoers was paramount in making this decision. Establishing the necessary social distancing requirements within the midway, the ticketing booths, the food and beverage booths, as well as in spectator areas, proved to be unworkable given the constraints of the site.
“This was a very difficult decision for the Board, but in the end we decided that the potential health risks to our staff, volunteers and the general public still are too great to allow us to commit to holding this very large gathering in July,” said Arapahoe County Board Chair Nancy Sharpe. “The Arapahoe County Fair is a 114-year-old community tradition, one we treasure. The sacrifices we are all having to make through this unprecedented health crisis are profound. But we will get through this together – and the Fair will return with “Fair fun for Everyone” in 2021.”
Open Spaces Director Shannon Carter echoed this, saying the logistical challenges and the sanitary procedures we would need to put in place to protect the health of our guest are simply too uncertain to move forward this year. “We’ve canceled numerous events at the Fairgrounds Event Center this spring. We would only host such a large gathering as the Fair if we were as sure as possible that everyone on site would be safe,” he said. “We are pleased to be able to hold limited 4-H completion events given appropriate safety protocols, and we’ll release those details once they’ve been finalized and approved.”
County officials are optimistic about being able to conduct the 4-H events in some form. “It is critical that we continue to support Arapahoe County’s 4-H Youth Programs – and honor all their hard work year-round,” said Commissioner Jeff Baker, who represents eastern Arapahoe County. “These kids are the future of Colorado – and they deserve recognition.”
The Fairgrounds Event Center was repurposed into an Alternate Care Facility in March. It has been ready to accept guests who are recovering from COVID-19 should hospitals become overwhelmed with new cases. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened, but the site will remain set up as an Alternate Care Facility indefinitely, per Tri-County Health Department and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management, in the event that additional support is needed for regional hospitals over the summer.
The Board and our Open Spaces team have heard from so many of you, and the outpouring of understanding and support has been deeply appreciated. We can’t wait for the time when we can safely come together to celebrate our Western heritage and the traditions we hold dear to our hearts.